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Lubbock Voters Approve Money For Raises At Sheriff’s Office, But Not Road Bond Package

Lubbock voters went to the polls on Nov. 2, 2021.
Sarah Self-Walbrick/Texas Tech Public Media
Lubbock voters went to the polls on Nov. 2, 2021.

With over 11% of voters casting a ballot, locals voted in favor of a property tax increase that will support raises at the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office but against the City of Lubbock’s $174.5 million bond package for road improvements.

The county property tax rate will go from $.339978 to $.359990 per $100 valuation. The county tax rate has not changed in almost a decade.

The tax rate increase will add about $5.2 million to the county’s $120 million budget. That money will go toward pay raises for Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office employees. The additional funds will allow the county to increase the starting salary at the sheriff's office from $41,000 per year to roughly $49,000. This year’s county budget also gave employees a 5% cost-of-living raise.

County leaders said the pay bump will allow for better employee recruitment and retention at the Sheriff's Office. The proposition passed with 57% of voters in favor.

The city’s road bond package failed with 54% of ballots cast against the tax rate increase.

The city’s $174.5 million bond would have improved select roads inside Loop 289 and in South and West Lubbock. Roughly $42 million would have gone toward work on Broadway, from University Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Both the city’s road bond and the county’s measure increased property tax by an amount that required a public vote under Texas law.

Statewide, voters also passed all eight state constitutional amendments that were on ballots.

Proposition 1 will allow charitable raffles at rodeo events. Unauthorized raffles can be considered illegal gambling under Texas law, but not anymore. Almost 84% of Texans voted for the proposition, including 83% of Lubbock voters.

The second amendment proposition authorizes counties to issue bonds or notes to raise funds for transportation infrastructure in underdeveloped areas. This passed with 63% of the statewide vote and 60% of Lubbock votes.

Proposition 3 bans the state from prohibiting or limiting religious services, including those in churches and other places of worship. This amendment is/was in response to the early days of the pandemic, when in-person church services were affected by COVID-19 spread mitigation measures. This amendment passed with 62% of statewide votes and 72% of Lubbock votes.

The fourth proposition will require candidates to have 10 years of experience practicing law in Texas to be eligible for election to the Texas Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals or a Texas court of appeals. Currently, the law requires 10 years of experience but allows for out-of-state experience. The amendment received 59% of voters’ support, including 55% of local votes.

Proposition 5 allows the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to have oversight of candidates running for judicial seats by accepting complaints or reports, conducting investigations and reprimanding them. The commission, an independent agency created by the state Constitution, already has these powers over current judicial officeholders. Just over 59% of Texans voted in favor of this measure, including 56% of Lubbock voters.

The sixth amendment on ballots allows residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities to designate one essential caregiver who cannot be denied in-person visitation rights. If the proposition passes, the Legislature would create further guidelines for these caregivers. This is another amendment that came out of the pandemic, when nursing homes were locked down. It passed with 88% of the statewide vote and 89% of Lubbockites’ votes.

Proposition 7 will put a limit on school district property taxes incurred by the surviving spouse of a person with disabilities older than 65 who has died. The surviving spouse must be at least 55 years old at the partner’s time of death and still live in the home. The amendment is necessary to update the Constitution in accordance with the tax code, which was modified in the 2019 legislative session to include this change. The change was approved with 87% of votes, with 90% of Lubbockites voting in favor.

The eighth and last amendment on ballots expands eligibility for residential homestead tax exemptions to include spouses of military members killed or fatally injured in the line of duty. This one passed with 88% of votes, including 90% in Lubbock.

Andrew Zhang of The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.

Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.