The following resolutions were passed by the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas on October 6, 2005, during the Association’s Annual Conference.
No. 1: Thanks to the Host Court
WHEREAS, the annual conference of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas was held in Lubbock, Texas, Oct. 3-6, 2005; and
WHEREAS, the Honorable Commissioners Court of Lubbock 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 has wholehearted thanks and deep appreciation to the Honorable Commissioners Court of Lubbock County, the Memorial Civic Center & Holiday Inn Hotel & Towers, sponsors, contributors and exhibitors for their courteous and warm hospitality extended to each of us.
No. 2: 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 held in Lubbock, Texas, Oct. 3-6, 2005; and
WHEREAS, the members of the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas wish to acknowledge the expertise of the following and thank the following: Mr. James Allison of Allison, Bass & Associates, L.L.P.; County Progress Magazine; Texas Association of Counties and Executive Director Sam Seale; Mr. Richard O. Avery and Ms. Stacy Hoefling of V.G. Young Institute of County Government, Texas Cooperative Extension; Texas Cooperative Extension agents’ professional associations; 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.
No. 3: Memorial to Deceased Officials and 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:
West Texas Region
Former Texas Association of Counties Executive Director Buck Douglas
Former Roberts County Commissioner Willis N. Clark
Former Roberts County Commissioner Clyde “Bud” Hodges
Former Irion County Commissioner Jeff McCutchen
Former Parmer County Commissioner Raymond McGehee
Former Ward County Commissioner James Harold Raglin
Former Cochran County Commissioner H.H. “Hobbs” Rosson
Former Swisher County Commissioner Billy Settle
Former Kerr County Commissioner Bill Stacey
Former Brewster County Judge Sam Dee Thomas
Former Stephens County Judge Miller Tuttle
Former Winkler County Commissioner James Winn
North & East Texas Region
Former Rockwall County Judge Harold E. Crawford
Former Coryell County Commissioner Hy Davison
Former Bowie County Commissioner Paul Fannin
Former Milam County Commissioner V.W. Hauk
Former Polk County Commissioner R.R. “Dick” Hubert
Navarro County Commissioner Olin Nickelberry
Smith County Commissioner Don Pinkerton
South Texas Region
Former Aransas County Judge Agnes A. “Tony” Harden
Former Fort Bend County Judge Clyde Kennelly
Former Jim Hogg County Judge Horatio S. Ramirez
Jim Hogg County Commissioner Zaragosa Ramirez
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that 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.
No. 4: Support of our President and Troops in War on Terrorism
WHEREAS, our nation is presently embroiled in a war on terrorism; and
WHEREAS, the security of our nation and our freedom is at risk;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas wholeheartedly supports our president and our troops in the war on terrorism.
No. 5. Special Commendation to Certain Legislators
WHEREAS, during the recent legislative session, certain legislators provided extraordinary leadership; and
WHEREAS, the courage of these legislators was demonstrated in the deliberations on appraisal caps and revenue caps; and
WHEREAS, these efforts prevented the imposition of these inequitable, inefficient proposals;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas extends its special commendation to all members of the Legislature who courageously opposed appraisal caps and revenue caps; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Rep. Fred Hill, Rep. Carter Casteel, and Rep. Mike Villarreal be especially recognized for their leadership on this important issue.
No. 6: 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 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 essential programs placing greater demands on county budgets 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 does 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, including 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.
No. 7. Indigent Health Care
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 44 will require a study of the Texas system of indigent health care; and
WHEREAS, some studies have proposed 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;
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 alternatively requests that the state of Texas obtain additional federal funds through the Medicaid program.
No. 8. Federal Funding for Indigent Health Care
WHEREAS, Texas has relied upon hospital districts, counties, and public and non-profit hospitals to provide health care to our indigent citizens; and
WHEREAS, the state of Texas has failed to fully access federal Medicaid funds; and
WHEREAS, this failure of the state of Texas has forced local taxpayers to assume this burden through property taxes; and
WHEREAS, these federal funds are being fully utilized by other states;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that the state of Texas expand its Medicaid program to obtain federal matching funds for indigent health care and relieve the property tax payer of this unfair burden.
No. 9. Opposition to Appraisal Caps and Revenue Caps
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature has attempted to address the method by which public education is funded; and
WHEREAS, the state of Texas has during the past decade retreated from its historic level of funding for public education, thereby requiring local school districts to increase property taxes to fund education; 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, Texas homeowners and businesses need meaningful property tax relief, and
WHEREAS, the governor’s proposal to lower the existing cap from 10 percent to 3 percent on all property appraisals is not a true solution to the school property tax problem; and
WHEREAS, appraisal caps or revenue caps would diminish local control and tie the hands of county officials and limit their ability 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, indigent defense and federal mandates such as the Help America Vote Act and the Clean Air Act; 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
WHEREAS, reducing appraisal caps or revenue caps will not necessarily result in a reduction of property taxes but will result in severe impacts 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;
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 urge the Texas Legislature to reduce the school property tax burden by again assuming the state’s historic share of support for public education.
No. 10: Indigent Criminal Defense
WHEREAS, indigent criminal defense legislation has required additional county taxpayer expense to provide indigent criminal defense services; and
WHEREAS, indigent criminal defense legislation has added administrative duties and reporting requirements to county offices; and
WHEREAS, the present appropriation is insufficient to reimburse the county for these mandated costs, with 65 percent of the costs being imposed on county taxpayers;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that the provisions of indigent criminal defense legislation be revised to simplify the administrative and reporting requirements and improve the efficiency of the indigent criminal defense program and that formal criminal proceedings be initiated within 30 days in all criminal cases; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature appropriate sufficient funds to compensate counties for the full cost of implementing the indigent criminal defense program or repeal the program.
No. 11. Mandatory Attorney Fees in Child Protective Services Cases
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 6 was amended in Conference Committee to mandate that counties provide attorneys to represent indigent parents in all Child Protective Services cases; and
WHEREAS, this unfunded mandate was added to this legislation without any notice or public hearing; and
WHEREAS, this legislation provided no funding for these additional services; and
WHEREAS, this mandate has been imposed upon county property tax payers;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that mandatory representation in Child Protective Services cases be repealed unless fully funded by the state of Texas.
No. 12. Local Option Development Authority
WHEREAS, Texas counties have very limited authority to implement a county development plan; and
WHEREAS, this lack of authority has caused inefficient and inequitable distribution of the transportation and infrastructure costs of new development;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that counties be granted local option authority to adopt county development plans and impose reasonable impact fees to fairly distribute the infrastructure costs for new development.
No. 13: County Fees and Fines
WHEREAS, county fees and fines are a traditional source of funding for the support of local law enforcement, county detention facilities and the court system; and
WHEREAS, counties have no other available sources of revenue except the over-burdened property tax; and
WHEREAS, the state of Texas has invaded these traditional county revenue sources by creating additional fees to be collected at the county level and forwarded to the state comptroller for state purposes;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that all fines and fees collected at the county level be retained by the county for local budget needs.
No. 14. Granting Powers to Municipal Utility Districts and Special Utility Districts
WHEREAS, Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in the Union; and
WHEREAS, Texas is expected to have a 75 million population at build out; and
WHEREAS, city government and county government 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;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas opposes the Legislature granting additional powers to municipal utility districts and special utility districts.
No. 15. County Support of Hurricane Victims
WHEREAS, Texas counties have provided generous support to relieve the suffering and meet the needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita; and
WHEREAS, the services, facilities and support provided by Texas counties have severely impacted local county budgets; and
WHEREAS, these costs have been incurred to respond to an immediate national emergency; and
WHEREAS, these emergency services are essential to maintain our nation and respond to natural disasters or acts of terrorism;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that the federal and state governments provide full and complete reimbursement to Texas counties for all costs incurred for hurricane relief efforts; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas requests that the federal and state governments provide sufficient funding for the acquisition, installation and maintenance of emergency generators to maintain electrical power for public water supply and sewer systems during disaster disruptions.
Fifteen resolutions were adopted, as shown above. In addition, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas Resolutions Committee requests that:
the State Executive Board establish criteria and policy to recognize retiring judges and commissioners at the annual State Conference.
In addition, the Resolutions Committee requests that the following items of legislative interest be assigned to the Association’s general counsel to be developed as amendments to other legislation:
Remove the Interest and Sinking Fund amount from the General Revenue Tax Levy that is part of the 8 percent levy for indigent health care.
Allow counties to retain a proportionate amount of funds from fine and fee collections when the county collects from its own collections effort.
Direct a study by the CJCAT general counsel, the Texas Association of Counties, or the Legislature to determine the amount of local resources that are spent for the support of state agencies such as Community Corrections and Supervision (Adult Probation), Department of Public Safety, Texas Cooperative Extension, etc.
Revise the definition in Chapter 387 of the Local Government Code regarding “Special Assistance Districts” to allow any county to be eligible to collect sales tax in the areas that have not reached the 8.25 percent cap.
Oppose the closure of local Department of Human Services (DHS) offices and any further regionalization of human services including mental health and mental retardation (MHMR) and aging programs.
Support additional funding for county transportation needs and local control of overweight trucks on county roads.