County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas
The following resolutions were passed by the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas representing 254 counties in the State of Texas on October 8, 2015, during the Association’s Annual Conference.
1. Thanks to the Host Court
WHEREAS, the Annual Conference of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas was conducted in Hays County, Texas, October 5-8, 2015; and
WHEREAS, the Honorable Commissioners Court of Hays County has hosted the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas in the most entertaining and excellent manner;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas expresses its wholehearted thanks and deep appreciation to the Honorable Commissioners Court of Hays County, sponsors, contributors and exhibitors for their courteous and warm hospitality extended to each of us.
- Thanks to State and Local Associations and Friends of County Government
WHEREAS, the Annual Conference of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas was conducted in Hays County, Texas, October 5-8, 2015; and
WHEREAS, the members of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas wish to acknowledge the expertise of and thank the staff of: James Allison of Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP; the Texas Association of Counties and Executive Director Gene Terry; the Texas Association of Regional Councils and Executive Director Ginny Lewis; the V.G. Young Institute of County Government, a part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agents’ professional associations; County Progress Magazine and editor Julie Anderson; and the many other state and local associations and people who have all been so helpful to county government;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that this Association thanks all of these individuals and their staffs for their past, present and future help on behalf of county government.
- Memorial to Deceased Officials and Special Friends
WHEREAS, the following highly regarded members and friends of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas are deceased; and
WHEREAS, the Association desires to pay appropriate respect to these members and friends; and
WHEREAS, since our last conference, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas has mourned the passing of:
Throckmorton County Commissioner Wilton Ernest Cantrell
Former Bandera County Commissioner Rex Cox
Former Howard County Commissioner William B. Crooker
Former Sutton County Judge James Webster Elliott
McCulloch County Commissioner Jim Ellison
Former Kent County Judge Mark Geeslin
Former King County Commissioner George Norman Key
Former Lamb County Commissioner Thurman Lewis
Former Menard County Judge Otis Harold Lyckman
Former Wichita County Commissioner Joseph R. Miller, M.D.
Former Collingsworth County Commissioner Elvis Elson Pitts
Former Kerr County Commissioner Cade Schwethelm
Jack County Commissioner Fearl Fain Smith
Former Castro County Commissioner Curtis Snitker
Ochiltree County Commissioner Terry Symons
Former Gaines County Judge Ronnie “Max” Townsend
Former Dawson County Judge Richard Allen Wells
Former Parker County Commissioner James Scott Woody
Former Chambers County Commissioner David “Bubba” Abernathy
Former Williamson County Commissioner Carl Lidell
Bee County Judge David T. Silva
North & East Texas
Former Leon County Commissioner Robert B. Biddle
Newton County Judge Ronnie Boyett
Former Trinity County Judge Doyalton Dan Dominey
Former Fannin County Judge Jimmy Doyle
Grimes County Commissioner Pam Finke
Grimes County Commissioner J. R. Green
Former Johnson County Commissioner Ron Harmon
Former Ellis County Commissioner Larry D. Jones
Former Hamilton County Commissioner Michael Lewis
Former Leon County Commissioner Francis G. Lipsey
Former Rains County Commissioner Jim Painter
Former Wood County Commissioner Roy Don Shipp
Former Hamilton County Commissioner Garland Short
Former Brazos County Commissioner and County Judge Randy Sims
Former Lamar County Commissioner Glynn Stephens
Former Freestone County Commissioner Melvin R. Waldrip
Red River County Commissioner Rickey Wooten
William (Dooley) Garth Gilchrist, III
Shelburne (Shelly) J. Veselka
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that following the passage of this resolution, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas members pause for a moment of silence and meditation to honor the memory of these respected individuals.
- Opposition to Unfunded Mandates
WHEREAS, Texas counties are responsible for the operation and management of many and various governmental programs as required or authorized by state law; and
WHEREAS, some county government programs are fully or partially supported with funds disbursed by the State of Texas pursuant to the state appropriations process; and
WHEREAS, the State of Texas, acting through the Texas Legislature or through a state agency or executive order, may enact laws or promulgate rules that have the effect of imposing mandatory financial obligations upon Texas counties; and
WHEREAS, the State of Texas, through the Texas Legislature or through a state agency or executive order, mandates that counties implement certain governmental programs or perform certain duties and obligations including financial commitments by a county to expend county funds in connection therewith; and
WHEREAS, during each regular session of the Texas Legislature, all state funds that support county programs are reviewed through the state appropriation process and by other state budgetary review systems; and
WHEREAS, the aforementioned review process may result in a reduction, or cessation, of state financial support of county government programs causing an unforeseeable disruption and reduction of the county budget and operations; and
WHEREAS, Texas counties cannot achieve reliable financial planning and the necessary bond ratings sufficient to support county-related obligations when the state mandates a new program that is not fully funded or under conditions where the state reduces or fully withdraws prior funding and disbursement for county government programs;
NOW, THEREFORE, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and its 254 current member counties do hereby resolve that for the foregoing reasons, it is in the best interests of Texas counties and their taxpayers to support and favor the passage of legislation in the form of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Texas that would expressly prohibit the imposition of a mandatory governmental program on Texas counties, whether by an act of the Texas Legislature or a state agency or by executive order, unless the State of Texas has fully funded and disbursed all necessary funds to enable Texas counties to operate said governmental program.
- Opposition to Appraisal Caps and Revenue Caps
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature has previously considered and rejected proposals for additional revenue caps and additional appraisal caps on counties; and
WHEREAS, 60 percent of the average taxpayer’s property tax burden is due to school taxes while only 14 percent is due to county taxes; and
WHEREAS, appraisal caps or revenue caps would diminish local control and tie the hands of county officials and limit their ability to provide essential services to address the needs and emergencies of their citizens; and
WHEREAS, county government is already struggling to meet the demands of under-funded and unfunded state mandates such as indigent health care and indigent defense and federal mandates such as the Help America Vote Act and the Clean Air Act; and
WHEREAS, the demands on county budgets continue to increase including health care, motor fuel, road materials, and all other products and services purchased by counties; and
WHEREAS, artificial appraisal caps or revenue caps will result in a shift of taxes from rapidly appreciating properties to those remaining relatively stable in value and to all non-residential properties; and
WHEREAS, appraisal caps or revenue caps will not necessarily result in a reduction of property taxes but will result in a severe impact on county services; and
WHEREAS, undermining a property tax system based upon fair market value is questionable public policy and will result in a distorted, inequitable taxation scheme under which identical homes could be taxed at vastly different amounts; and
WHEREAS, it would be unfair for the Texas Legislature to impose additional revenue caps on local governments without imposing similar caps on state government;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas does hereby express its opposition to efforts to limit local control and does hereby oppose any attempts to impose revenue caps or appraisal caps upon Texas counties, and the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas expresses its deep appreciation to all legislators who oppose these unsound measures.
- County Local Option Revenue Sources
WHEREAS, county revenue sources are extremely limited; and
WHEREAS, under current statutes, counties are forced to rely upon property taxes to fund necessary services; and
WHEREAS, county taxpayers should have the option to adopt a local sales tax, a local severance tax, a local motor fuel tax, an increase in local vehicle registration fees, and other revenue sources to reduce property taxes;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that the Legislature amend the tax statutes to allow the adoption of a county local option sales tax, a local option severance tax, a local option motor fuel tax, an increase in local vehicle registration fees, and other revenue sources for the reduction of property taxes without imposing any additional revenue caps.
- Indigent Health Care
WHEREAS, revisions have been proposed regarding the Texas system of indigent health care; and
WHEREAS, some revisions propose an assessment upon counties to support a regional indigent health care system; and
WHEREAS, such assessment would constitute an unfunded mandate, requiring property tax increases in those counties; and
WHEREAS, such regional systems would not be efficient or responsive to local taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, the present Section 1115 Waiver provides voluntary opportunities to participate in healthcare innovation projects;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas opposes any attempt to impose a mandatory assessment upon Texas counties to fund a regional or statewide health care system and instead supports the extension and renewal of the voluntary Section 1115 grants.
- Opposition to Diversion of Dedicated Funds
WHEREAS, the Legislature has committed certain funds for dedicated purposes; and
WHEREAS, unfortunately these funds have been improperly withheld from these needed functions and used to balance the general state budget; and
WHEREAS, the state leadership has proposed to end this diversion of funds;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas expresses its opposition to any state diversion of dedicated funds and supports the state leadership’s commitment to end this practice.
- Emergency Services Program
WHEREAS, citizens of rural Texas desire access to 9-1-1 emergency services in an efficient manner, as evidenced by approval of the monthly fee on business and residential phone bills; and
WHEREAS, the 9-1-1 emergency services dispatch and response depends on equipment which must function reliably on a continuous basis; and
WHEREAS, older equipment reaches a point of being high maintenance and becomes unreliable; and
WHEREAS, technology continues to improve, necessitating upgrading hardware and software for reverse 9-1-1 services and other needs;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas urges our state legislators to provide full funding to the Emergency 9-1-1 Services Program for maintenance and improvement; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that funds generated by the 9-1-1 surcharge will not be used by the Legislature as money set aside to balance the state budget; and
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that any such funds set aside that currently exist be fully appropriated for the Emergency 9-1-1 Services Program.
- Opposition to Granting Powers to Municipal Utility Districts and Special Utility Districts
WHEREAS, Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in the Union; and
WHEREAS, city government and county government should have appropriate authority to regulate growth in their respective counties and cities; and
WHEREAS, special water districts and private water corporations have the means to furnish water and provide for growth in rural areas of the counties; and
WHEREAS, municipal utility districts and special utility districts have been improperly used by certain developers to avoid compliance with county and city infrastructure plans;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas opposes the granting of additional powers to municipal utility districts and special utility districts and requests that the approval of the county be required before any further districts are created.
- Support for County Road Grant Fund
WHEREAS, a proposed constitutional amendment was approved by the voters on November 4, 2014; and
WHEREAS, this constitutional amendment will provide additional funding to be used only for constructing, maintaining, and acquiring right of way for public roadways other than toll roads; and
WHEREAS, this constitutional amendment provides needed support for public highways without increasing taxes; and
WHEREAS, the county road system is eligible for assistance from this funding;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas does hereby request that additional funding be appropriated to support the county road grant program.
- Support for Constitutional Amendment Proposition 5 To Authorize Road Maintenance by Counties
WHEREAS, Proposed Constitutional Amendment Proposition 5 on the November 3, 2015, ballot proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize a county with a population of 7,500 or less to provide construction and maintenance to private roads if it imposes a reasonable charge for the work; and
WHEREAS, in 1980, the voters authorized counties with a population of 5,000 or less to perform construction and maintenance on private roads if a reasonable charge was imposed; and
WHEREAS, in small counties, private contractors are not available to perform these services, resulting in poorly maintained roads and causing a safety hazard for citizens and emergency services; and
WHEREAS, during the past 25 years, population growth has excluded several counties from the ability to provide this service; and
WHEREAS, the passage of Proposition 5 will adjust the population limit from 5,000 to 7,500 to prevent the loss of this service;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas does hereby express its support for Proposition 5 on the November 3, 2015, ballot to allow counties with a population of 7,500 or less to provide construction and maintenance to private roads for a reasonable charge for the work.
- Support for Constitutional Amendment Proposition 7 Dedicating Revenue to State Highway Fund
WHEREAS, Proposed Constitutional Amendment Proposition 7 on the November 3, 2015, ballot proposes a constitutional amendment to dedicate certain revenue derived from taxes imposed on the sale, lease or rental of motor vehicles to the state highway fund; and
WHEREAS, the passage of Proposition 7 will not increase any taxes; and
WHEREAS, the adoption of Proposition 7 will dedicate at least $2.5 billion of existing taxes to the construction and maintenance of non-toll roads and bridges and to pay off transportation debt; and
WHEREAS, the increasing number of motor vehicles on Texas highways requires a permanent, reliable funding source to allow for future planning to meet this need.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas does hereby express its support for Proposition 7 on the November 3, 2015, ballot to provide dedicated revenue to the state highway fund.
- Commissioners Court Budgetary Responsibility
WHEREAS, the Texas Constitution was carefully drafted to divide governmental powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches; and
WHEREAS, the Commissioners Court is constitutionally and statutorily charged with the responsibility to determine the county budget and the funding necessary for county departments; and
WHEREAS, Texas statutes, including the Texas Local Government Code and the Texas Government Code, provide an orderly process for the creation and compensation of county employees, including judicial department positions; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 1913 (codified as Section 75.401, Government Code) maintains the proper constitutional separation of powers, securing necessary staff for the judiciary while preserving the authority of the Commissioners Court to determine the creation and compensation of county positions through the budget; and
WHEREAS, the Commissioners Court of Galveston County has properly implemented the provisions of S.B. 1913 in the county budget; and
WHEREAS, certain members of the judiciary have refused to acknowledge the constitutional responsibility of the Commissioners Court and continue to litigate this matter;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas does hereby urge that all parties recognize the proper budgetary responsibility of the Commissioners Court to determine the creation and compensation of county positions and implement the provisions of S.B. 1913 without further delay or litigation.
- Uranium Mining Regulation
WHEREAS, uranium mining creates a special hazard for local groundwater; and
WHEREAS, uranium mining places a high demand upon local groundwater resources; and
WHEREAS, groundwater pollution by uranium mining cannot be recovered or rehabilitated and creates a permanent loss of groundwater; and
WHEREAS, county and groundwater conservation districts have very limited power to regulate uranium mining under current law;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that state law be amended to require a due process permit proceeding and approval by the local Commissioners Court and groundwater conservation district before any permit is granted for uranium mining.
- Fireworks Regulations
WHEREAS, counties currently have limited authority to regulate fireworks; and
WHEREAS, due to the continued danger of drought and the concern for public safety, such regulations are necessary to protect life and property;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas is opposed to any legislative action that would remove current county authority to regulate fireworks.
- EPA Definition of “Waters of the United States”
WHEREAS, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) have published and adopted a new rule to define “Waters of the United States” that will vastly expand the jurisdictional authority of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), entitled Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act; and
WHEREAS, USEPA and USACE have chosen to selectively interpret various Supreme Court Decisions related to the jurisdictional authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in order to develop a new Guidance which expands their own jurisdictional authority under the CWA to include waters of the state(s) and other waters previously not regulated under either the CWA or judicial proclamation, including some ditches, farm ponds, dry water ways and isolated wetlands; and
WHEREAS, the rule will infringe upon the sovereignty of state(s) to appropriately regulate waters of the state(s); and
WHEREAS, the rule may require counties and special districts to obtain costly and burdensome Section 404 Permits from the USACE for the construction of small bridges and culverts, and routine maintenance of some ditches, canals, and other such water conveyances; and
WHEREAS, the rule will infringe on private property rights, impairing land management activities such as urban development and agriculture production; and
WHEREAS, legislation to expand the jurisdictional authority of the CWA as described in the rule has failed in the U.S. Senate; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to nullify the rule;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas strongly opposes the new rule to define “waters of the United States” in that it increases the need for burdensome and costly permitting requirements, infringes on private property rights, and circumvents the legislative process, thus, the will of the people.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Congress, not federal agencies, should make the laws, and therefore any such change in jurisdictional power of the federal government should only occur as a result of the passage of federal legislation.
- Oil and Gas Waste Disposal Facilities
WHEREAS, the Texas oil and gas industry is a vital part of our economy; and
WHEREAS, this industry requires the use of disposal facilities, such as waste injection wells, to operate in an efficient manner; and
WHEREAS, the operation of these disposal facilities can pose a substantial risk to the groundwater supply; and
WHEREAS, protection of the groundwater is also essential to the economy and health and safety of Texas citizens; and
WHEREAS, adequate information should be provided to Texas counties and their citizens to ensure the safe operation of oil and gas waste facilities and protection of the groundwater;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas does hereby request that the Texas Legislature and the Texas Railroad Commission require that Texas counties, their citizens and groundwater conservation districts be provided all available information concerning proposed oil and gas waste facilities in their area and a full opportunity to participate in the evaluation of any application for additional facilities.
- Rural Public Transit
WHEREAS, 37 Rural Transit Districts serve all the counties throughout Texas; and
WHEREAS, Rural Transit Districts provide access to needed goods and services, jobs and medical services throughout the rural counties of Texas; and
WHEREAS, Rural Transit Districts traveled 31,381,803 miles and provided 6,336,451 one-way trips to the citizens of rural Texas in 2014; and
WHEREAS, Rural Transit Districts have not received an increase in state funding since the year 2000; and
WHEREAS, on average bus fleets for Rural Transit Districts are at 130 percent of their established lifecycle; and
WHEREAS, funding opportunities for large federal and state grants have historically left qualified rural and small urban projects underfunded; and
WHEREAS, without increased funding, in order to meet increasing service demands and costs in rural and small urban areas, services to those most in need in rural Texas will suffer;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas expresses its support for a meaningful increase in funding to Rural & Small Urban Transit Districts.
County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas
2015 Resolutions Committee
Wichita County Judge Woodrow W. “Woody” Gossom Jr., Chairman
Glasscock County Judge Kim Halfmann
Anderson County Judge Robert Johnston
Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid
Nueces County Commissioner Mike Pusley
Midland County Commissioner Jimmy Smith
Cherokee County Commissioner Kelly Traylor
In addition to the above-adopted resolutions, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas Resolutions Committee requests that the following items be recommended for future study and consideration.
- County responsibility for cost of transport, autopsy and disposition of dead bodies.
- State responsibility for drug-resistant tuberculosis cases and HIV medications.
- Tax valuation of refineries and new oil and gas production facilities, and new oil and gas interests.
- Full funding for school vaccination program.
- State assume full responsibility for transport cost of jail inmates to TDCJ.
- Require vehicles to reduce speed and/or yield a traffic lane to county road and bridge vehicles and equipment.
- Require Commissioners Court representation on Regional Water Planning Groups.
- Request legislation to require state reimbursement for court-appointed attorneys in child protective services cases.
- Restore full funding for the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Grant Program.
- Support county authority to prohibit the disposal of human waste and liquid septage in the unincorporated area.
- State funding for all state special elections.
- Additional funding for sales tax support on fireworks dedicated for local use.
- More local authority on the regulation of fireworks.
- Vehicle inspection and licensing problems.
- Local retention of asset forfeiture funds.
- Abuse of the Public Information Act.
- Abolish the excessive driver’s license fees assessed under the Driver Responsibility Act.
- Support and restore county authority to regulate all county buildings and property.
- Recovery of cost of reproduction of clerk’s digitized records and e-filing.