Student population for Lubbock has, at least from Texas Tech’s view, continued to increase, which also makes a contribution to the Lubbock economy. This was a well-emphasized point during most of Mayor Dan Pope’s recent State of the City Address.
For the first time as mayor, Pope, a Tech alumnus, presented his State of the City Address to a large audience at noon Tuesday in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Most of what he had to say gave a positive outlook on the state of the city and its relationship to education institutions in Lubbock.
Besides a 14 percent increase in commercial buildings in the city of Lubbock, there is also a 34 percent increase in residential buildings around the city, according to data from the city.
“There are several adjectives that can describe the state of our city: growing, prosperous, dynamic, strong,” Pope said. “But I would describe our city and the state of our city as simply great.”
With the inclusion of Texas Tech and other universities and colleges within the city, visitors have been able to hold off on increasing property taxes, he said. Last year, more than 5 million people traveled and visited Lubbock, which is expected to increase.
Lubbock is estimated to have more than 249,000 people living within the city limits. Out of that estimate, nearly 20 percent of the population consists of students within Tech, Lubbock Christian University, South Plains College and Wayland Baptist University, according to the city data.
Tech has been able to help in neighborhood clean-up and beautification projects, Pope said. Last year, Student Government Association hosted the Tech to Town event that brought 500 Tech students to work on 11 community projects.
“This was their way of saying ‘thank you’ to Lubbock,” Pope said. “There’s great things going on all over town, but there’s more work to be done in the future.”
Estimates show the population of Lubbock is growing at a 1 to 2 percent rate, Pope said. Construction permits increased in 2016 by 14 percent, according to data from the City of Lubbock website, and residential growth has gone up 34 percent.
“The total value for new construction in Lubbock last year was over $660 million, (and) that doesn’t include what’s going on at Texas Tech,” Pope said.
The new goal of Pope’s administration is to plan for the future and to take care of what is already within the city, he said. Plans include a drainage project in northwest Lubbock at a budget of $35 million, with an interest-free loan, that will address the flooding near Maxey Park, Lubbock’s medical district and residential neighborhoods.
The city has also implemented plans to try and conserve more water, Pope said.
Since 1980, the water usage in Lubbock has decreased by 38 percent, according to the city data, mainly through improved water conservation efforts.
“That means we’re all buying into this idea that water is very important to our future. You know we like to talk about the fact that water conservation is the least expensive supply of water that we can develop,” Pope said.
The projects with the Lubbock Power & Light company is in an effort to join the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
Joining ERCOT will allow city officials to improve reliability and increase the system’s capacity, Pope said. It will also allow the city to harness more solar and wind energy.
This is the 35th year the Lubbock mayor has given the address, which is hosted by the Lubbock Apartment Association. The tradition of the LAA is to present the mayor with his choice of charities and raise money through a luncheon to give to that charity, Bill Maloy, president of the LAA, said.
“For years, this event has been able to make donations for the charity in the mayor’s name for organizations like South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, the Scottish Rite, the Honor Flight,” Maloy said. “Over the last 35 years, these donations have totaled well over $150,000.”
This year, Pope chose the Lubbock Fire and Police Benevolence Fund, Maloy said.
Overall, the city is in good shape, Pope said, and with the cooperation of the city council, Lubbock will be able to continue its economic development. As of now, the city budget is down by more than $23 million from the previous year, and still able to function properly.
“The (universities and colleges) make a big impact, and surely they have a lot to do with fueling our economy,” Pope said. “I speak for the city when I say we’re thankful for our partners in education.”
In Thursday's issue of The Daily Toreador the article "Student population adds to Lubbock economy, development to come to the city," should have read Tuesday. The DT regrets this error.