The Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association, representing 34 counties in the Texas Panhandle, passed 14 resolutions on September 1, 2016, during the Association’s semi-annual conference in Amarillo, Texas.
- Appreciation to Sponsors and Hosts
WHEREAS, the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association semi-annual meeting was held on September 1, 2016; and
WHEREAS, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service hosted the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association in the most efficient and hospitable manner; and
WHEREAS, the law firm of Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott sponsored the catered lunch for the conference attendees and guests; and
WHEREAS, Warren Cat sponsored the afternoon break for the conference attendees and guests;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association thanks the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott, and Warren Cat for their support and sponsorship of the association’s semi-annual conferences.
- Appreciation to Support Organizations
WHEREAS, conducting the business of county government has become so complicated, affecting multimillion dollar budgets, that it has become imperative that we, as elected officials, have sound, knowledgeable advice and assistance to navigate through the complex maze of state and federal laws, rules and regulations; and
WHEREAS, the members of the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association wish to acknowledge the expertise of, and thank the staff of, the Texas Association of Counties and its Executive Director, Gene Terry, Mr. Jim Allison, of Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP, the V. G. Young Institute of County Government, the Texas Association of Extension Agents, and our local Extension Agents who have all been most helpful to county government;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association thanks all of these individuals and their staffs for their past, present and future help on behalf of county government.
- Memorial to Deceased Officials and Friends
WHEREAS, the following highly regarded members and friends of the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association are deceased; and
WHEREAS, the Association desires to pay appropriate respect to these members and friends; and
WHEREAS, since our last conference, Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners have mourned the passing of:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association pause for a moment of silence and meditation to honor the memory of these respected individuals.
Melanie Allred, wife of Oldham County Judge Don Allred
- Opposition to Appraisal Caps and Revenue Caps
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature might consider proposals for additional revenue caps and additional appraisal caps on counties; 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, appraisal caps or revenue caps would diminish local control and tie the hands of county officials and limit their ability to 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 and indigent defense, and federal mandates such as the Help America Vote Act and the Clean Air Act; and
WHEREAS, the demands on county budgets continue to increase including motor fuel, road materials, and all other products and services purchased by counties; 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 to all non-residential properties; and
WHEREAS, appraisal caps or revenue caps will not necessarily result in a reduction of property taxes but will result in a severe impact 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; and
WHEREAS, it would be unfair for the Texas Legislature to impose additional revenue caps on local governments without imposing similar caps on state government;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association does hereby express its opposition to efforts to limit local control and does hereby oppose any attempts to impose revenue caps or appraisal caps upon Texas counties, and the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association expresses its deep appreciation to all legislators who oppose these unsound measures.
- Opposition to Unfunded Mandates
WHEREAS, state mandates without funding either increase property taxes or require a county to decrease services;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association supports legislation allowing a state mandate imposed on a county to have effect only if the state provides for payment to the county for the cost of the mandate.
- Opposition to Encroachment on Local Control
WHEREAS, it is detrimental to local county governments when the state or federal government attempts to encroach on local control;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association opposes any attempt by the state or federal government to encroach on local control.
- Extension of Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code
WHEREAS, Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code, the Texas Economic Development Act, has benefitted many West Texas counties and school districts by helping to establish wind energy generation as a significant economic development industry in West Texas; and
WHEREAS, many West Texas counties also possess solar and geothermal resources that fall within the definition of “Renewable Energy Electric Generation;” and
WHEREAS, the job creation by renewable industries is well suited to rural communities that lack the infrastructure capability to support a large work force, but benefit significantly economically by the capital investment created by renewable industry projects; and
WHEREAS, there are several bills introduced concerning Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code that will be considered by the 84th Legislature; and
WHEREAS, it is of the utmost importance that this economic development tool remain available to the rural communities of Texas; and
WHEREAS, it is imperative that local school districts continue to have local discretion in approving projects;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association supports the extension of Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code and that it includes Renewable Energy Electric Generation;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we support increased tax benefit to the local school district and the continuation of local decision-making power to approve projects, and urge the State Legislature to show its support of rural Texas communities by only passing bills that include all of the above stated resolve.
- Securing Our Borders
WHEREAS, illegal immigration poses a threat to security;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association supports that the highest priority is to secure the borders from all foreign countries, and urges the state and federal governments to make it a priority to secure the borders from all foreign countries.
- Supporting Rural Texas as a Valuable Part of the State’s Economy, Production and Export of both Traditional and Renewable Energy, and Food and Fiber for our State and the World
WHEREAS, rural Texas population is greater than 20 percent of the United States including Iowa, and our 3,000,000-plus population is very important to Texas; and
WHEREAS, rural Texas is where Texas energy is produced and transported to market by trucks, railroads, pipelines and transmission lines, and infrastructure of all types are very important to our needs; and
WHEREAS, the United States benefits from adding renewable resources such as wind energy to its portfolio of electric generation sources, as wind energy consumes no water, produces no emissions, and can provide low-cost electricity at stable pricing, providing a hedge against volatile pricing of fossil fuel-fired generation including the costly regulations being enacted by the EPA; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature has also recognized the need for development of new sources of energy to meet Texas’ growing demand for electricity by directing the Public Utility Commission to designate Competitive Renewable Energy Zones in areas throughout the State of Texas that had the potential for production of cost-effective renewable energy; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature directed the PUC to ensure that transmission infrastructure was built as needed to transmit electricity to market and they accomplished that goal by having private companies build the CREZ transmission lines that travel 3,600 miles across rural Texas with no cost to the State. These costs of approximately $7 billion will be paid to the private builders over time by electricity users of the ERCOT grid and this initiative should be fully completed; and
WHEREAS, rural communities across the State of Texas have seen their population get older, many of our young people are leaving to find jobs elsewhere, and our greatest need is good jobs for our citizens; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Economic Development Act, sometimes known as Chapter 313 of our Tax Code, is the only effective tool we have to incent good jobs in rural Texas because small counties to not have the assets to hire professional economic development organizations; and
WHEREAS, the Texas Panhandle, South Plains, West Texas and Rolling Plains and some South Texas counties need the energy activity, especially compared to the areas with higher population density, and are more attractive and suitable for it because this is where the energy is and we have less barriers and need for jobs;
THEREFORE, we pray that the current energy policies for wind, oil and gas and other commodities remain unchanged as well as the Texas Economic Development Act; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association that our Legislature hears our please.
10. Support of Benefits for Military Retirees
WHEREAS, previous cuts have been made to current and former service personnel’s benefits and retirement;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association urges Congress to fully fund service personnel benefits and retirement.
11. Support of Military Troops
WHEREAS, our nation is presently embroiled in a war on terrorism and the security of our nation is a high priority; and
WHEREAS, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Obama Administration propose cutting the defense budget that reduces troop numbers to pre-World War II levels; and
WHEREAS, the world is continuing to be a dangerous place (i.e. North Korea, China, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and now Russia);
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association supports our troops in all conflicts in the war on terrorism; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association urges Congress to return troop strength to a level that would deter confrontation and adequately defend our country.
12. Support of Increased Funding for Indigent Defense from the State
WHEREAS, the U.S. and Texas Constitution require that legal counsel be provided to indigent defendants; and
WHEREAS, the state has failed to meet its obligation required by the U.S. and Texas Constitution and has mandated that county taxpayers absorb proportionately 80 percent of the state’s responsibility;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association supports the Texas Indigent Defense Commission’s effort to close the funding gap between the current 20 percent reimbursement and actual costs of indigent defense.
13. Support of Law Enforcement Officials
WHEREAS, our law enforcement community is under attack across the nation; and
WHEREAS, the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association wants to acknowledge our support for all law enforcement agencies;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association wants to pay our respect to these dedicated public servants, and to express our respect and support as they put their lives in danger to uphold the laws of the State of Texas and the United States Constitution.
14. Mentally Ill Defendants
WHEREAS, Texas county jails, and especially rural county jails, are not equipped or staffed to handle mentally ill defendants; and
WHEREAS, the burden of housing mentally ill defendants has caused a hardship on county jail personnel and resulted in a budget strain on rural counties; and
WHEREAS, the constitutional duty to house and provide services to mentally ill defendants is the responsibility of the State of Texas;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Panhandle County Judges and Commissioners Association requests that the State of Texas expeditiously handle cases where defendants have been deemed mentally ill in order to reduce the financial burden to the county and provide needed services to mentally ill defendants; the Association further requests that the State of Texas reimburse counties and their taxpayers for the costs incurred to provide services for mentally ill defendants.