ENNIS – Beginning Sept 12, the city of Ennis will begin its stage 1 Drought Conservation plan. Under stage 1, the city requests residents and commercial customers to voluntarily reduce water consumption.

The city of Waxahachie has already enacted Stage 1 of its water conservation plan due to conditions caused by this summer’s record drought.

During this week’s city commission meeting, Ennis City Manager Steve Howerton described the need to enter stage 1 due to a continuing drop in the level of the city’s primary water source, Lake Bardwell.

“Currently, the lake’s level is 417.15 feet. At 417 feet, the conditions become necessary to initiate stage 1 of the drought plan,” he said.

Under stage 1 conditions, the city will reduce its own usage. In addition, residents are asked to follow a schedule for lawn and landscape watering. The city has posted a schedule for watering by address on its website.

“The city requests the residents voluntarily follow the five-day-per-month schedule.”

On designated days, residents are asked not to water between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Howerton stressed the city is in no way approaching a crisis.

“We have other sources of water for emergency use. Currently, we are only addressing the conditions at Lake Bardwell,” he said.

Members of the commission adopted on first reading the tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The rate, as approved, is $0.69500 per $100 of property valuation, which is the same tax rate as was set last year.

Although the valuation for the average residential property in Ennis declined slightly, the city will see an increase in its tax revenue of about $32 million in the next fiscal year due to tax abatement roll-offs, new construction and inventory growth.

The commissioners will have the second and final reading at the next scheduled meeting, Sept. 19, when the final reading is slated for the budget ordinance.

The commission also considered the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The general fund budget total, as approved, is $16,198,664, which includes $12,608,505 for operating expenses, capital outlays of $107,400 and $3,482,759 for general obligation bond debts.

The water and sewer budget totaled $8,315,356, with operating expenses projected at $5,981,090 and the balance for capital outlay and interest and sinking.

Commissioners also approved continuing with Prosperity Bank as the city’s bank depository. Prosperity has served as the depository since 1995 and has rendered satisfactory service during that period of time, Howerton said.

Also bidding to serve as the city’s depository was First State Bank of Rice.

The commissioners approved two appointments to the city’s boards and commissions. Mayor Russell Thomas recommended Marty Donet for the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Russell Caldwell to fill an open seat on the Building Standards Commission.