KEY QUESTION: Are County Commissioners required to file an annual Road Report?
REFERENCE POINT: Texas Transportation Code Chapters 251 and 252
1. Chapter 251.004 of the Transportation Code states that County Commissioners are the supervisors of the public roads in a county unless the county adopts an optional system of administering the county roads under Chapter 252 of the Texas Transportation Code.
2. Chapter 251.005 states that a County Commissioner who serves as a road supervisor must supervise the public roads in the Commissioner’s precinct at least once each month and make a report during the ninth month of the county’s fiscal year showing:
a) the condition of each road or part of a road and of each culvert and bridge in the Commissioner’s precinct;
b) the amount of money reasonably necessary for maintenance of the roads in the precinct during the next county fiscal year;
c) the number of traffic control devices in the precinct defaced or torn down;
d) any new road that should be opened in the precinct; and
e) any bridges, culverts, or other improvements necessary to place the roads in the precinct in good condition, and the probable cost of the improvements. (See #7 for additional requirement.)
The road report “shall be entered in the minutes of the Commissioners Court to be considered in improving public roads and determining the amount of taxes imposed for public roads.” In addition, “the report shall be submitted, together with each contract made by the court since its last report for any work on any road, to the grand jury at the first term of the district court occurring after the report is made to the Commissioners Court.”
3. Chapter 252.001 describes the Ex Officio Road Commissioner System, commonly known as the precinct system. In this system, the County Commissioner takes care of the roads in the Commissioner’s precinct. Under rules adopted by the court, the Commissioner directs the laying out of new roads, construction or changing of roads, and building of bridges. Subject to authorization of the court, the Commissioner can hire employees, to be paid from the county road and bridge fund.
4. According to Chapter 252.001, “an ex officio road Commissioner has the duties of a supervisor of public roads…” As stated in Chapter 251.004, one of these duties is filling out a road report, as described above, due the ninth month of the county’s fiscal year. In other words, County Commissioners who supervise their precinct roads are required by statute to complete a road report.
5. County Commissioners who do not serve as the road supervisor of the county roads in their precinct do not have to complete these reports.
6. Chapter 252 describes the remaining road systems, where someone other than the County Commissioner supervises the roads, and who is responsible for road-related reports in those systems.
a) Chapter 252.107 requires a “Road Commissioner” to file reports at each term (meeting) of the Commissioners Court.
b) Chapter 252.207 requires a “Road Superintendent” to file a sworn report at each regular term of the Commissioners Court.
c) Chapter 252.309 sets out the duties of a “Road Engineer” or “Administrator” who shall maintain detailed records of all county expenses related to road maintenance.
7. In the 83rd Legislative Session, the Legislature provided for County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zones. This legislation imposed a new reporting requirement by inserting a new section into Chapter 251 of the Transportation Code. This new section, Chapter 251.018, requires a road report for all counties, including those operating under Chapter 252, to include in all previously required reports a statement of the “primary cause of any road, culvert or bridge degradation if reasonably ascertained.” This provision is tied to an effort to identify and track the costs to the state and county for road damages attributable to heavy truck traffic in the oil and gas sector.