Brown County Commissioners Court members will conduct their first meeting of the new year with a controversial item on their agenda: “consideration and possible approval to renew legislative consulting agreement with Bob Turner.”
    Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and a post on the Big Country We the People Facebook group urges its members to “put on your calendars to attend … we need to pack the courthouse with like minded people who want to stop funding a lobbyist for Brown County. Also we need people that are willing to stand up and speak. Fill out a speakers form and tell the court how you feel about your tax dollars going to pay for a lobbyist.”
    Commissioners will be voting on whether the county will continue in a partnership that has paid Turner, a former legislator who now owns Rural Issues Consulting, a total of $44,000 a year to monitor the legislature and state agencies on behalf of the entities in the partnership.
    Since 2011, those entities have been the Brownwood and Early city councils, Brown County Water Improvement District, Brown County, Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce and Brownwood Municipal Development District.
    Until recently, the entities routinely renewed the contract with Turner with little discussion. The issue attracted the attention of We the People members and others late last year who oppose the idea of hiring what they say is a taxpayer-funded lobbyist and say the taxpayers aren’t receiving any benefit for the expense.
    Commissioners court members tabled the issue at their Dec. 18 meeting.
    Commissioners Wayne Shaw and Joel Kelton said earlier they are against renewing the contract. Commissioner Gary Worley said Friday morning he hasn’t decided how he’ll vote, and commissioner Larry Traweek said he knows how he’ll vote but declined to say how.
    County Judge Ray West, who only votes to break a tie, said he has no idea if there will be a 2-2 tie vote that would require him to cast the deciding vote. Af of Friday morning, West said he did not know how he would vote if that happens.
    “I am weighing the factors and I want to hear the public comment on both sides before I decide,” West said. “There are many factors to consider.”
    Four of the original six entities have voted to renew Turner’s contract. At the Early City Council meeting last month, a motion to renew the contract died without a second to the motion, so the council did not vote.
    In other matters before the court:
    • Consideration and possible approval of action regarding burn ban.
    • Sheriff Vance Hill — consideration and possible approval to purchase vehicles.
    • Opening of bids for concrete work.
    • Consideration and possible approval of bids for concrete work.