Now that the elections are over, the time for county government to unite is upon us. County officials must present a unified front for the betterment of all of our constituents. As the Legislature takes up session in January, there will be very serious challenges to all aspects of local government. These challenges will affect counties and cities alike, rural and urban.
With these facts in mind, the Texas Association of Counties hosted a meeting Oct. 7-8 at which all the affiliated associations of county government came together. In attendance were the presidents and past presidents of the associations, along with representatives of the Texas Municipal League and Council of Urban Counties.
There was a frank, open discussion that assured all in attendance that we are all together in trying to cope with these impending challenges and possible pressure points facing our local government. Unfunded mandates, appraisal caps and revenue caps were some of the more important items discussed. All of the attendees pledged to work together openly, without hidden agendas, for the betterment of county government. It will not be an easy road to travel, as we have differences within our respective associations, and we need to be ever mindful of whom we represent. But together we can make our voices heard in Austin.
In our home counties, we need to stress the detrimental effects that unfunded mandates, appraisal caps, and revenue caps could have on our respective counties. We need to stress that the heavy property tax load on taxpayers is primarily caused by the state of Texas not funding schools at an adequate level. The burden of funding schools primarily rests on the shoulders of the local property taxpayer. As we visit with our local constituents, we need to focus on the inadequacies that appraisal caps will cause. We also should stress the loss of services that will result from revenue caps. The value of local control cannot be over-emphasized.
With the courthouses of Texas working together, we can improve county government and provide better services at reasonable costs without undue burden on our taxpayers. County government officials can be very proud of themselves because over the years they have been good stewards of the public monies. We owe it to our taxpayers to keep these monies under their local control.
Your CJCAT Executive Committee is looking forward to working with you to make our voices heard in Austin. This legislative session will require your assistance in Austin. There are 1,270 of us who are members of the commissioners courts across the state of Texas; if you are not called directly to help, then please volunteer to help with the legislative session.
The holiday season is just around the corner, and I would like to take this time to wish friends and family a very safe, happy holiday season. Lets be ever mindful of our soldiers who are in harms way far from home as we enjoy the Christmas season. Please remember them in every prayer as they put their lives on the line so that our families can live a life of freedom without fear. Please remember and pray also for our president and his administration that they be blessed with the wisdom to make the right decisions for the future of our country.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
Van L. York, Association President