EARLY — The City of Early may become the second Brown County municipality to impose fines for residents who violate outdoor water restrictions stipulated by the Drought Contingency Plan.
In a discussion-only agenda item, City Administrator Ken Thomas told Early City Council members Tuesday the city may need to consider imposing fines upon a third notice to a violator. The city has sent out numerous second and third notices to violators. While there are currently no fines in place, water service can be shut off to residents who receive third notices, with a $25 reconnect fee.
"We had an incident last week at a business where they were out back washing lawn mowers, with water running down the street," Thomas said. "We're going to have to implement some kind of penalty."
The approved days for outside watering are Monday for odd-numbered addresses, and Tuesday for even-numbered addresses. On those days, watering is prohibited between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.
"Some people have forgotten we're in a drought," Mayor Bob Mangrum said.
Thomas said some residents who water on the approved day use a lot of water and "try to make up for a week of no watering."
In May, the Brownwood City Council authorized the city's code enforcement personnel to cite violators who ignore repeated warnings, and conviction in municipal court could mean a fine of up to $265.
In other business Tuesday, the Early council heard a presentation from Assistant Brown County Attorney Elisha Bird and sheriff's investigator Scott Bird on a plan to open the Heart of Texas Child Advocacy Center. The center, to be located in a house off U.S. Highway 377 on the east edge of Early, will be designed to lessen the trauma of child abuse victims, bringing several professionals under one roof including a forensic interviewer, sexual assault nurse examiner, counseling and therapy, and victims assistance and referrals.
If that sounds familiar, it's because the same location had been home to a satellite office of the Hill Country Child Advocacy Center, which is in Burnet. The satellite office in Early opened last year but closed a couple of months ago due to lack of funding.
Now, plans are to reopen a child advocacy center at the same house — no longer as a satellite office, but as its own entity, the Heart of Texas Child Advocacy Center. It will have an annual operating budget of about $120,000, and organizers are asking Brown County entities to contribute funds to help the center meet local match requirements. Elisha Bird asked Early council members to consider contributing $1,500.
Council members could not take action Tuesday but comments from council members and Mayor Bob Mangrum indicated the council would approve the contribution later.
Elisha Bird said a child advocacy center are designed to give prosecutors "the best shot in the world" at putting on a case without having the child testify.
City Attorney Perry Sims, a former prosecutor, said child advocacy centers are essential for the prosecution of child abuse cases. "I think this is a necessity for our area. This is something that is a high priority for law enforcement," Sims said.
In other business, the council:
• Discussed setting the tax rate for the 2012-'13 fiscal year at 53.19 cents per $100 valuation, down from current rate of 53.48 cents per $100 valuation.
• Authorized the city to collect a $10 fee for late utility payments.
• Approved a recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission to grant a Special Use Permit to place a manufactured home at 413 Longhorn.