Cleburne officials instituted Stage I drought measures, effective immediately, during Tuesday’s Cleburne City Council meeting.
Stage I is voluntary and includes no restrictions.
“At this point it’s notification to raise awareness and make people mindful of their water usage to conserve water,” Assistant City Manager David Esquivel said. “If there’s no break in the drought or if we don’t see some decline in usage, we may have to move to Stage II.”
Stage II and the stages above do include restrictions.
Lake Pat Cleburne’s capacity totals 72 percent, or about 4.92 feet low, Esquivel said. Reservoirs statewide average about 65 percent capacity, he said. Although Cleburne remains in slightly better shape, officials hope residents and businesses conserve water now to possibly avoid restrictions once spring and summer arrive.
City charter election
Cleburne voters may soon weigh in on whether council members should receive pay and whether their terms of office should extend from two to three years. The city’s charter dictates both matters and any changes to the charter require voter approval.
Council members will soon decide whether to place both or either proposal on the upcoming charter proposals ballot, an election city leaders hope to conduct in May.
Cleburne council members receive no compensation save reimbursement for expenses directly related to city business.
Cleburne’s charter, approved by voters in 1950, has undergone infrequent updates since. Mayor Scott Cain, earlier this year, called for a committee to review the charter and, where necessary, suggest changes.
Councilman John Warren, who chaired the committee, said he and committee members were pleased to discover fewer problems with the charter than they expected going in.
“About 95 percent of the changes we are recommending involve streamlining the charter by omitting redundancies, modernizing and simplifying some of the archaic language and removing some outdated provisions, which are now governed by state or federal laws,” Warren said.
Former Mayor Katherine P. Raines, who also served on the committee, agreed.
“The old charter is very wordy and not very user friendly,” Raines said. “The main thrust of our [recommendations] was to remove duplicative language concerning state and federal laws, because those already apply to us anyway and updating or removing antiquated terminology.”
Council members plan to decide which proposals to place on the May ballot during their second meeting in January.
“We need to talk about and debate vigorously [the possibility of including council pay on the ballot] given our tight budget,” Cain said. “But that would ultimately be up to the citizens to decide.”
Paying council members, City Attorney Fritz Quast said, would reclassify them as city employees and, under the Tort Claims Act, provide a measure of liability protection vis a vis acts carried out on behalf of the city.
The pay rate need not be exorbitant, Quast said.
“Probably $10 a meeting would do the trick,” Quast said.
The important thing, Warren said, is for the council to be up front and transparent with any such proposals should they decide to place it on the ballot.
Cain said any such proposal, should voters approve it, should not take effect until the next fiscal year, or the next election cycle.
“I don’t know yet if I would even be in favor of proposing something like this given the current economic conditions,” Cain said Wednesday morning.
Sign request postponed
Council members voted to postpone action on a variance request submitted by Cleburne Spanish SDA Church to place a monument sign on their property. Committee work is under way to review and update city ordinances, including those relating to signs. That committee is expected to present update proposals to council in January. Council members decided it would be best to wait until they update the ordinances before addressing additional sign permit or variance requests.
Council members approved a lease between the city and Eagle Flying Museum for use of hangar space at Cleburne Regional Airport for five years at $165.08 per month.
EFM officials plan to establish an aviation museum at the site, which they say will be a hands-on museum including airplane building projects. EFM Program Director Jim Lasche said he envisions the museum as both a fun and educational endeavor.
“We have the high school close by,” Lasche said. “I think this provides a great opportunity for students to learn about aviation. I’ve been approached by a lot of kids excited about the museum, it’s just that all of them so far have been 40 or older.”
Officials hope to open the museum around the first of the year. It will open Fridays only initially with more days added should enough people volunteer to help out.
In other news, council members:
zx Appointed Justin Hewlett and Fred Kirschstein to the Cleburne Community Services Ordinance Review Committee.
zx Appointed Sandra McCartney to a second term on the Cleburne Library Advisory Board.