Appraisal District Employee’s Marriage to Tax Assessor-Collector
Re: Whether section 6.05(f) of the Tax Code bars the continued employment of a county appraisal district employee after the employee marries the same county’s tax assessor-collector (RQ-0346-GA).
Submitted by Rex Emerson
Kerr County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-375: Section 6.035(a)(1) of the Tax Code, which directs that an individual is ineligible to serve on an appraisal district board of directors if the individual is married “to an individual who is engaged in the business of appraising property for compensation for use in proceedings under this title,” applies to a tax assessor-collector who serves as a nonvoting member of the board of directors under section 6.03(a) of the same code. Tex. Tax Code Ann. ? 6.035(a)(1) (Vernon 2001); see also id. ? 6.03(a) (Vernon Supp. 2005). Similarly, section 6.05(f) of the Tax Code, which prohibits a chief appraiser from employing the spouse of “a member of the board of directors” applies to a tax assessor-collector who serves as a nonvoting member of the board of directors under section 6.03(a). Id. ? 6.05(f) (Vernon 2001). Nevertheless, section 6.035(a) does not apply when an appraisal district board member is married to an employee of the appraisal district. The words in section 6.035(a), “is engaged in the business of appraising property for compensation for use in proceedings under this title,” id. ? 6.035(a)(1), refer to an individual who appraises property for commercial profit. Consequently, a tax assessor-collector is eligible to serve as a nonvoting member of the appraisal district board of directors under 6.03(a) despite her marriage to an appraisal district employee. If the chief appraiser employs the spouse of the local tax-assessor collector, who serves as a member of the appraisal district board, the chief appraiser violates section 6.05(f). The continuous-employment exception to the general anti-nepotism statute, found in Government Code chapter 573, does not apply to section 6.05(f) of the Tax Code. See Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. ?? 573.041, .062(a) (Vernon 2004). Consequently, upon an appraisal district employee’s marriage to the tax assessor-collector, the appraisal district cannot continue to employ him. The employee may retain his employment either until the end of his contract with the appraisal district, or if the employee is employed at-will, he may retain his employment until the end of the pay period during which his marriage occurs. The tax assessor-collector has no authority to either decline to serve as a nonvoting member of the appraisal district board of directors under Tax Code section 6.03(a) or to appoint an agent from her office to serve in her stead.
Newspaper of General Circulation
Re: Whether a county commissioners court must determine whether a publication is a newspaper of general circulation (RQ-0356-GA).
Submitted by Joe Black
Harrison County Criminal District Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-380: There is no express statutory or judicial mandate placing a legal obligation on the Harrison County Commissioners Court to determine whether a publication is a newspaper of general circulation. Because county actions are subject to challenge based on defects in notice, the Harrison County Commissioners Court could benefit by engaging in some method or process by which to make the determination with regard to one or both of the newspapers in Harrison County. The Harrison County Commissioners Court has broad discretion in the conduct of county business and may decide from among many options what method or process by which to make the determination that best serves the needs of Harrison County.
Pretrial Release Practices
Re: Pretrial release practices in a county subject to chapter 1704 of the Occupations Code, which governs bail bond sureties (RQ-0352-GA).
Submitted by Tim Curry
Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-381: Chapter 1704 of the Occupations Code concerning certain bail bond sureties does not prohibit a county from posting signs in county detention facilities informing defendants about statutory provisions for executing a bail bond secured by money or a personal bond and further providing the telephone number of the personal bond office. A county may only post the telephone number of a bail bond referral service in county detention facilities if it can do so in a manner that does not constitute a prohibited referral under Occupations Code section 1704.304(b); such a sign would not satisfy the requirement to post a list of bail bond sureties in certain locations required by section 1704.105. Article 26.04 of the Code of Criminal Procedure concerning indigent defense does not authorize judges of criminal courts to order city jails to post signs concerning release on bail bonds and personal bonds. Generally, employees or agents of a personal bond office may interview prisoners in a city holding facility for information gathering purposes on a voluntary basis.