Public Improvement District Assessment
Re: Whether liens for public improvement district assessments levied against property that was not a homestead at the time of assessment may be enforced by foreclosure even though the property has become a homestead between the date of assessment and the date of the enforcement action (RQ-0187-GA).
Submitted by Eugene D. Taylor
Williamson County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-237: A public improvement district assessment may be enforced by foreclosure of a homestead provided that the statutory lien created by section 372.018(b) of the Local Government Code predates the date the property became a homestead and the amounts to be collected fall within the lien’s scope.
Deputy Sheriffs/Police Officers
Re: Whether deputy sheriffs are “police officers” for purposes of Local Government Code chapter 174, The Fire and Police Employee Relations Act (RQ-0189-GA).
Susan D. Reed
Bexar County Criminal District Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-238: Chapter 174 of the Local Government Code, The Fire and Police Employee Relations Act, applies to counties and deputy sheriffs. Deputy sheriffs are “police officers” under the Act.
County Attorney Pro Tem
Re: Whether an attorney appointed county attorney pro tem is disqualified from acting as criminal defense counsel in an adjoining county under Code of Criminal Procedure article 2.08 (RQ-0190-GA).
Submitted by Tempie T. Francis
Motley County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-239: Article 2.08 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not disqualify an attorney appointed by a court as county attorney pro tem from representing criminal defendants in an adjoining county.
Emergency Service District Election
Re: Whether a commissioners court may hold an election that creates an emergency service district and imposes a sales and use tax within the proposed district’s boundaries (RQ-0202-GA).
Submitted by Cheryll Mabray
Llano County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-242: Health and Safety Code chapter 776 does not authorize a commissioners court to call an election to create an emergency service district and at the same time call for an election for a sales and use tax in the emergency service district boundaries. The election order must provide for an election to confirm the district’s creation and authorize the levy of a property tax, setting the maximum tax rate at any rate that does not exceed the ten cents on the $100 valuation allowed by Texas Constitution article III, section 48-e. Only the district board may call an election to adopt a sales and use tax. Tax Code chapter 324 provides for a countywide sales and use tax to fund county health services. A county may not adopt the chapter 324 tax if the tax rate authorized by that chapter combined with the rate of all sales and use taxes imposed in any city within the county exceeds two percent in that city.
Deputy District Clerks/Civil Service Plan
Re: Whether Hidalgo County deputy district clerks are subject to the provisions of the Hidalgo County civil service plan, and if not, whether the Hidalgo County commissioners court may amend the civil service plan to include deputy district clerks (RQ-0196-GA).
Submitted by René Guerra
Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-243: Hidalgo County deputy district clerks are not subject to the provisions of the Hidalgo County civil service plan. The Hidalgo County commissioners court cannot amend the civil service plan to include deputy district clerks.
Constitutional County Court Jurisdiction
Re: Whether the judge of the Kerr County constitutional county court must hear certain matters at the Kerrville State Hospital and is entitled to a salary supplement for doing so (RQ-0197-GA).
Submitted by David M. Motley
Kerr County Attorney
Summary, Opinion GA-244: The Kerr County constitutional county court and county court at law have concurrent jurisdiction over proceedings under the Texas Mental Health Code. Because an application for court-ordered mental health services may be filed with the county clerk in the county in which the proposed patient resides, is found, or is already receiving mental health services by court order or under subchapter A of chapter 573, a court may have jurisdiction over and be required to hear a matter involving a patient who resides in another county. The Texas Mental Health Code does not generally require a court in a county where a state hospital is located to hear matters involving patients who are receiving services at the hospital pursuant to the order of a court in another county. The Texas Mental Health Code permits but does not require a court to hold a proceeding for court-ordered mental health services at the state hospital in the county or other location outside the county courthouse. Sections 571.018(c)(5) and 574.031(i) of the Health and Safety Code authorize a commissioners court to set a court cost to pay a salary supplement to a judge who holds hearings at locations other than the county courthouse. Section 571.018(g) directs that a judge who holds hearings at locations other than the county courthouse is entitled to receive a salary supplement as provided by section 574.031(i) as additional compensation. A commissioners court that has set a salary supplement court cost may not withhold the salary supplement from a judge who holds hearings at locations other than the county courthouse or reduce the judge’s salary in an amount equal to the salary supplement.
Approving Claim for Payment
Re: Whether a county auditor may approve a claim for payment on a contract that was not awarded in compliance with the County Purchasing Act (RQ-0195-GA).
Submitted by David R. Austin
Ector County Auditor
Summary Opinion No. GA-247: If the county auditor determines that the county awarded a contract without complying with the County Purchasing Act, section 113.065 of the Local Government Code prohibits the auditor from approving a claim for payment on the contract. Such a contract is not void ab initio but may be voided by a court. The fact that the County Purchasing Act does not provide that a contract made in violation of its terms is void does not affect a county auditor’s duty under section 113.065 of the Local Government Code to disapprove a claim for payment on a contract awarded without complying with the County Purchasing Act. A commissioners court lacks authority to ratify such a contract or to approve quantum meruit contract payments for such a contract.