In a surprising move, the Early City Council did not vote Tuesday evening on the continuation of an agreement with other Brown County entities to retain Bob Turner as a legislative consultant, effectively ending the city’s participation in the contract.
Turner, who served as a Democratic representative for Texas House District 73 from 1991 to 2003, has been utilized as a rural issues consultant by county entities since 2011. The Brownwood City Council voted Tuesday morning to continue its involvement in the contract.
Although councilman B.J. McCullough moved to accept the agreement, no one seconded the motion. The council members did not discuss the agreement among themselves during the meeting, and no one spoke against the agreement before the attempted vote.
Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce director Ray Tipton explained the mechanics of the agreement to the council. “The total cost of the two-year contract is $44,000,” Tipton said. “Last year, it was divided six ways between the City of Early, the City of Brownwood, the Brownwood [Area] Chamber of Commerce, the Brownwood Municipal Development District … Brown County, and the Brown County Water Improvement District. Partnering up this way, we get $44,000 of legislative consultant services for the low price of $3,666.67 per year per entity.”
Tipton said the Brownwood Chamber, Brown County Water Improvement District and City of Brownwood have already voted to approve the agreement.
Robert Porter, local businessman and chairman of the Brown County Republican Party, also spoke in favor of the agreement. “This is one of the best examples I know of a partnership between multiple entities within a county working together for the betterment of everyone,” Porter said. “In the last legislative session, 11,919 bills were filed … collectively in the House and the Senate.
“It’s physically impossible for [our representatives] and their staffs to keep up with what might be, not necessarily on the surface, but hidden inside 11,919 bills.”
Porter said Turner and his staff help keep the county apprised of locally impactful budget cuts — like past threats to Lake Brownwood State Park and the local TxDOT office — and other rural concerns in a legislature filled with representatives from large metropolitan areas. “That’s why we need an extra set of eyes and ears watching out for the collective interest of Brown County,” he said.
After the non-vote, Tipton told the Bulletin the participating entities will simply need to pay a larger share of Turner’s contract, and that he anticipates the agreement will still be reached. The non-vote came after some locals shared social media posts criticizing the agreement, calling it unnecessary and accusing Turner of supporting higher taxes.
During the meeting the Early council also voted to:
• Approve Ordinance 2017-14 to annex and designate the permanent zoning of 2.348 acres out of Sophia J. St. John, Survey 21, Abstract 847 on Early Blvd. Councilman Charles Matlock recused himself from the vote because his sister owns the property.
• Approve a 25-foot variance to the 25-foot setback to place two carports at 11 Bevrodon Dr.
• Accept the Planning and Zoning recommendation to approve the final plat for the subdivided property into four lots, known as Longhorn Acres, at 303 Longhorn Dr.
• Approve Resolution 2017-R15 to create the 2018 Building Early, Texas Initiative. The initiative is a continuation of an economic development program, created in 2016, that waives all fees associated with single-family home construction.
At the beginning of the meeting, Early city administrator Tony Aaron said in his report that initial sales tax returns are up over last fiscal year despite the subtraction of J.C. Penney from the tax rolls.