Land Annexed by Special Districts
Re: Jurisdiction over land that is annexed by two separate special districts (RQ-0812-GA).
Submitted by Patrick M. Rose
Chair, Committee on Human Services
Texas House of Representatives
Summary, Opinion No. GA-795: Whether a water district – that adds territory pursuant to individual petitions of separate landowners, in compliance with Water Code sections 36.321 through 36.324, before annexation of the same territory by another groundwater district is ratified at an election under section 36.328 – acquires jurisdiction over the subject territory depends on whether a court would apply the first-in-time rule to competing chapter 36 annexation claims. Applying the first-in-time rule, a court could find that the first district to initiate annexation procedures acquires jurisdiction. A court could also find that the first district to finalize the annexation acquires jurisdiction. This office cannot predict, in the apparent absence of judicial precedent, how a Texas court would resolve this issue. As a result, we cannot definitively answer your question.
Conflict of Interest, Water Conservation District
Re: Whether the conflict of interest provisions of chapter 171, Local Government Code, required two board members of the Uvalde County Underground Water Conservation District to disclose their respective interests and abstain from voting on a District rule (RQ-0853-GA).
Submitted by Allan B. Ritter
Chair, Committee on Natural Resources
Texas House of Representatives
Summary, Opinion No. GA-796: Chapter 171 of the Local Government Code generally governs a local public official's pecuniary conflicts of interest. Section 171.004 requires a local public official to file an affidavit disclosing the official's interest in a business entity or real property and abstain from participating in a vote or decision involving that entity or real property when the vote or decision will have a special economic effect on the business entity or the value of the real property. In March 2009, the board of directors (the "Board") of the Uvalde County Underground Water Conservation District (the "District") voted to approve a District rule permitting withdrawal of groundwater for agricultural use without certain limitations previously proposed. Based on the facts presented, a court could find that the March 2009 action had a special economic effect on an applicant for a water permit in which a Board member has a substantial interest and on the value of real property owned by another Board member, which was reasonably foreseeable. Given the inherently factual nature of the inquiry and absence of judicial precedent, this office cannot conclude that a court would find that the March 2009 action had a special economic effect, or that it was reasonably foreseeable that the action would have such an effect as to require the two Board members to file affidavits disclosing their interests and abstain from participating in the March 2009 vote.
Impact Fees for Platted Subdivision
Re: Calculation of impact fees for a platted subdivision (RQ-0854-GA).
Submitted by Eddie Lucio, Jr.
Chair, Committee on International Relations and Trade
Texas State Senate
Summary, Opinion No. GA-797: Local Government Code chapter 245 recognizes a developer's vested rights and requires a regulatory agency to consider approval or disapproval of an application for a permit based on regulations and ordinances in effect at the time an original application is filed. A developer has no vested rights in a project under chapter 245 if the project is dormant under section 245.005. Local Government Code chapter 395 governs the imposition of impact fees by municipalities. Impact fees are, as a general matter, charges on new development to pay for public facilities that become necessary as the result of growth in a particular area. A municipality must refund impact fees as provided in section 395.025. There is, as reflected in the express language of chapter 395 and in prior attorney general opinions, a distinction between the assessment of an impact fee and the collection of an impact fee. Chapter 395 indicates that the act of adopting an impact fee and the act of assessing an impact fee are distinct activities. However, we cannot say as a matter of law that a single ordinance could not serve as both the means by which a municipality imposes and assesses an impact fee. By its express terms, section 395.017 prohibits the imposition of additional or increased impact fees against a tract after the fees have been assessed unless the number of service units to be developed on the tract increases.
Hospital District Ad Valorem Tax Rate
Re: Method by which a hospital district may set an ad valorem tax rate when it has not set a tax rate since 1996 (RQ-0856-GA).
Submitted by Scott Brumley
Potter County Attorney
Summary, Opinion No. GA-798: The Tax Code does not provide a special method for a tax rate to be adopted by a hospital district that has not adopted a tax rate or levied a tax since 1996. We cannot predict whether a court would uphold a tax rate adopted without following the rollback procedures mandated by chapter 26 of the Tax Code.