Lubbock acts on redistricting, road coating process

Elliott Blackburn
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
April 9, 2010

Lubbock began preparations Thursday for a tricky political battle still months away.

The City Council approved a contract estimated to cost $20,000 to $25,000 over two years with Baylor law professors David Guinn and Michael Morrison for legal work on city redistricting. OAS_AD('Position3');

The city will use new census data to redraw the borders of its political districts next year. Political boundaries must shift to ensure equal voter influence at all levels of government.

It wasn't a task Lubbock's in-house attorneys could field alone, City Attorney Sam Medina said.

"It's so, so specialized," Medina said. "You must have true expertise in this area."

The Texas Legislature, Secretary of State's Office and Lubbock County are among the Baylor pair's past clients. Lubbock agreed to a $5,000 retainer and a $300-an-hour rate for the attorneys.

The city continued to talk to the Lubbock Independent School District and the county about using the same firm, Medina said.

"If we can come together and hire the same firm, there may be some cost savings," he said.

The council also approved a new, more costly road surfacing program that received rave reviews in neighborhoods where Lubbock tested the material last summer.

Contractors will use micro-surfacing to coat streets in or around five Lubbock neighborhoods across the city as part of a $3.8 million contract.

The new process costs about $1 more per yard of coverage than the old method, Lubbock Chief Operating Officer Marsha Reed said.

But the new method doesn't leave rocks for cars to kick up and chip windshields, she said.

"It looks like a new street, which, especially in our residential areas and stuff, people are loving it," Reed said.

Southwest Lubbock's departing councilman, John Leonard, approved the contract but criticized Lubbock's use of debt to fund road maintenance.

Leonard warned spending $10 million a year in debt to cover basic maintenance would dig the city into a hole.

"I don't see that this is sustainable, issuing $100 million in debt for street maintenance projects," Leonard said.