Interlocal Cooperation Act
Re: Whether the Interlocal Cooperation Act, Government Code chapter 791, permits a state agency governing body to delegate authority to approve an interlocal contract (RQ-0321-GA).
Submitted by John D. White
Chairman, Board of Regents
The Texas A&M University System
Summary Opinion GA-352: Section 791.011(d)(1) of the Government Code provides in its first clause that an interlocal contract must “be authorized by the governing body of each party to the contract.” Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. ? 791.011(d)(1) (Vernon 2004) (emphasis added). This provision requires that the governing body authorize an interlocal contract according to the same statutes and procedures applicable to its contracting authority generally. To determine whether an entity’s governing body may delegate authority to approve an interlocal contract, one must examine the statutes governing the particular entity’s contracting authority. The Texas A&M University Board of Regents is authorized by statute to adopt rules delegating authority to approve an interlocal contract. The remaining language of section 791.011(d)(1), in authorizing the governing body of a municipally owned electric utility to establish procedures for entering into interlocal contracts that do not exceed $100,000 without requiring the approval of the governing body, see id., necessarily permits delegation of such authority. And, by clear implication, this language indicates that a municipally owned electric utility’s governing body must approve and may not delegate approval of interlocal contracts that exceed $100,000.
County Funds and Hospital District
Re: Allocation of county funds to a hospital district that does not comprise the entire county (RQ-0322-GA).
Submitted by A. J. (Jack) Hartel
Liberty County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-353: The Texas Health and Safety Code requires a county in which a hospital district is created to transfer to that district the countys operating funds budgeted to provide medical care for the districts indigent residents. Where the hospital district does not comprise the entire county, neither chapter 286 nor chapter 61 of the Health and Safety Code provide a specific method to apportion the operating funds between the county and the hospital district. The county commissioners court is the countys governing body and is vested with discretion over a countys fiscal policy. Absent a statutory mandate on the apportionment of the operating funds, the commissioners court may use its discretion, subject to judicial review, to choose the calculation by which to divide the funds, provided the resulting transfer comports with the statutory duty to provide care for the indigent residents of the district.
Compensation for Public Officials
Re: Whether an elected public official may accept payment for completing a term as president of a private association of elected public officials (RQ-0324-GA).
Submitted by Rex Emerson
Kerr County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-354: A payment by a private association of public officials, compensating one of its members for services as its immediate past president, does not per se violate Penal Code sections 36.07, concerning prohibited honoraria, or 36.09, concerning the offer of a gift to a public servant. Section 36.07 does not prohibit fair compensation to a person for services as the president of a private association, assuming the person was elected president because of the person’s skills and abilities and not because the person is a public servant of a particular county or district. Section 36.09 does not prohibit payment to a person for legitimate consideration rendered in a capacity other than as a public servant.
Open Meetings Quorum
Re: Whether two persons who have been elected to serve as directors of the Bexar Metropolitan Water District, but whose elections have not yet been certified, and who have not yet taken the oath of office, should be counted as directors for purposes of determining the presence of a quorum under the Open Meetings Act, chapter 551, Government Code (RQ-0326-GA).
Submitted by Robert R. Puente
Chair, Committee on Natural Resources
Texas House of Representatives
Summary, Opinion No. GA-355: Two persons who had been elected to serve as directors of the Bexar Metropolitan Water District, but whose elections had not yet been certified, and who had not yet taken the oath of office, should not be counted as directors for purposes of determining the presence of a quorum under the Open Meetings Act, chapter 551, Government Code. A meeting between the newly elected but not yet sworn in directors and two currently serving directors did not constitute a “meeting” for purposes of the Act because no quorum of the district board was present.
District Judges Trying Criminal Cases
Re: The meaning of “district judges trying criminal cases” in Government Code section 76.002 (RQ-0330-GA).
Submitted by William M. Jennings
Gregg County Criminal District Attorney
Summary, Opinion No GA-357: The phrase “district judges trying criminal cases” in Government Code section 76.002 means a district judge who regularly examines criminal matters that involve a Government Code chapter 76 program or facility.