The following resolutions were passed by the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association representing 118 counties in the State of Texas on April 25, 2013, during the Association’s Annual Conference.
1. Thanks to the Host Court
WHEREAS, the Annual Conference of the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association was conducted in Midland, Texas, April 23-26, 2013; and
WHEREAS, the Honorable Commissioners Court of Midland County has hosted the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association in the most entertaining and excellent manner;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association expresses its wholehearted thanks and deep appreciation to the Honorable Commissioners Court of Midland County, sponsors, contributors, and exhibitors for their courteous and warm hospitality extended to each of us.
2. Thanks to State and Local Associations and Friends of County Government
WHEREAS, the Annual Conference of the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association was conducted in Midland, Texas, April 23-26, 2013; and
WHEREAS, the members of the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association wish to acknowledge the expertise of and thank the staff of: James Allison of Allison, Bass & Associates, LLP.; the Texas Association of Counties and Executive Director Gene Terry; the Texas Association of Regional Councils and Director Penny Redington; the V.G. Young Institute of County Government, a part of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and Director Richard O. Avery, Ph.D.; the Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents’ professional associations; County Progress Magazine and Editor Julie Anderson; and the many other state and local associations and people who have all been so helpful to county government;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that this Association thanks all of these individuals and their staffs for their past, present and future help on behalf of county government.
3. Memorial to Deceased Officials and Special Friends
WHEREAS, the following highly regarded members and friends of the West Texas 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, the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association has mourned the passing of:
Jeff Davis County Judge
Wanda Lou Adams
Former Morris County Judge
Vanoy Troy Boozer
Former Upton County Judge
Former Kent County Commissioner
and County Judge
Donnie Wayne Carriker
Former Garza County Judge
Giles Wilson Darby Sr.
Former Ector County Commissioner
Bill G. Elms
Commissioner Dan Langford
Former Lubbock County
Commissioner Eliseo Solis
Citizens of West, Texas
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association members pause for a moment of silence and meditation to honor the memory of these respected individuals.
4. Opposition to Unfunded Mandates
WHEREAS, Texas counties are responsible for the operation and management of many and various governmental programs as required or authorized by state law; and
WHEREAS, some county government programs are fully or partially supported with funds disbursed by the State of Texas pursuant to the state appropriations process; and
WHEREAS, the State of Texas, acting through the Texas Legislature or through a state agency or executive order, may enact laws or promulgate rules that have the effect of imposing mandatory financial obligations upon Texas counties; and
WHEREAS, the State of Texas, through the Texas Legislature or through a state agency or executive order, mandates that counties implement certain governmental programs or perform certain duties and obligations including financial commitments by a county to expend county funds in connection therewith; and
WHEREAS, during each regular session of the Texas Legislature, all state funds that support county programs are reviewed through the state appropriation process and by other state budgetary review systems; and
WHEREAS, the aforementioned review process may result in a reduction, or cessation, of state financial support of county government programs causing an unforeseeable disruption and reduction of the county budget and operations; and
WHEREAS, Texas counties cannot achieve reliable financial planning and the necessary bond ratings sufficient to support county-related obligations when the state mandates a new program that is not fully funded or under conditions where the state reduces or fully withdraws prior funding and disbursement for county government programs;
NOW, THEREFORE, the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association and its 118 current member counties do hereby resolve that for the foregoing reasons, it is in the best interests of Texas counties and their taxpayers to support and favor the passage of legislation in the form of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Texas that would expressly prohibit the imposition of a mandatory governmental program on Texas counties, whether by an act of the Texas Legislature or a state agency or by executive order, unless the State of Texas has fully funded and disbursed all necessary funds to enable Texas counties to operate said governmental program.
5. Protect and Defend the Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms
WHEREAS, a government of, by, and for the people has long been a cherished American value and the foundation of our freedom; and We The People’s fundamental and inalienable right to self-govern, and thereby secure rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and;
WHEREAS, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed;” and
WHEREAS, the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people;” and
WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people;” and
WHEREAS, the Texas Constitution, Article 1 Section 23a declares: “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State;” and
WHEREAS, the members of the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association recognize their duty as law-abiding citizens to act in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution, and agree that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon by any government or organization, political or otherwise.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association:
Section 1. Calls upon our state legislators and elected officials to join with us in the affirmation of the rights of our citizens under the 2nd Amendment.
Section 2. All federal acts, laws, executive orders, agency orders, and rules or regulations of all kinds with the purpose, intent, or effect of confiscating any firearm, banning any firearm, limiting the size of a magazine for any firearm, imposing any limit on the ammunition that may be purchased for any firearm, taxing any firearm or ammunition therefore, or requiring the registration of any firearm or ammunition therefore, infringes upon Texans’ right to bear arms in direct violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and therefore, any such law is not made in pursuance of the Constitution, is not authorized by the Constitution, and thus, is not the supreme law of the land, and consequently, is invalid in the State of Texas and shall be further considered null and void and of no effect in the 118 counties of this Association.
Section 3. That all state agencies are instructed to refuse requests or directives by federal agencies acting under unconstitutional powers enumerated in Section 2 above that would infringe upon our residents’ second, ninth, and tenth amendment rights, or other inalienable rights not here explicitly enumerated.
Section 4. Other communities and jurisdictions join with us in this action by passing similar resolutions.
Section 5. That copies of this resolution be immediately transmitted to the President of the United States; the President of the United States Senate; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; each member of Congress from the State of Texas; each justice on the United States Supreme Court; the Governor of the State of Texas; the Attorney General of the State of Texas; the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Texas Legislature; and each individual legislator who represents the counties in our Association.
6. Fireworks Regulations
WHEREAS, counties currently have limited authority to regulate fireworks; and
WHEREAS, due to the continued drought and the concern for public safety;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association is opposed to any legislative action that would remove current county authority to regulate fireworks.
7. Indigent Health Care
WHEREAS, revisions have been proposed regarding the Texas system of indigent health care; and
WHEREAS, some revisions propose an assessment upon counties to support a regional indigent health care system; and
WHEREAS, such assessment would constitute an unfunded mandate, requiring property tax increases in those counties; and
WHEREAS, such regional systems would not be efficient or responsive to local taxpayers;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association opposes any attempt to impose a mandatory assessment upon Texas counties to fund a regional or statewide health care system.
8. Opposition to Appraisal Caps and Revenue Caps
WHEREAS, the Texas Legislature has considered proposals for lower revenue caps and lower 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, 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 is unfair that the Texas Legislature impose additional revenue caps on local governments without imposing similar caps on state government;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas 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 West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association expresses its deep appreciation to all legislators who oppose these unsound measures.
9. Opposition to Diversion of Dedicated Funds
WHEREAS, the Legislature has committed certain funds for dedicated purposes; and
WHEREAS, unfortunately these funds have been improperly withheld from these needed functions and used to balance the general state budget; and
WHEREAS, the state leadership has proposed to end this diversion of funds;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association expresses its opposition to any state diversion of dedicated funds and supports the state leadership’s commitment to end this practice.
10. Emergency Services Program
WHEREAS, citizens of rural Texas desire access to 9-1-1 emergency services in an efficient manner, as evidenced by approval of the monthly fee on business and residential phone bills; and
WHEREAS, the 9-1-1 emergency services dispatch and response depends on equipment which must function reliably on a continuous basis; and
WHEREAS, older equipment reaches a point of being high maintenance and becomes unreliable; and
WHEREAS, technology continues to improve, necessitating upgrading hardware and software for reverse 9-1-1 services and other needs;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association urges our state legislators to provide full funding to the Emergency 9-1-1 Services Program for maintenance and improvement; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that funds generated by the 9-1-1 surcharge will not be used by the Legislature as money set aside to balance the state budget; and
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that any such funds set aside that currently exist be fully appropriated for the Emergency 9-1-1 Services Program.
11. Opposition to Granting Powers to Municipal Utility Districts and Special Utility Districts
WHEREAS, Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in the Union; and
WHEREAS, city government and county government should have appropriate authority to regulate growth in their respective counties and cities; and
WHEREAS, special water districts and private water corporations have the means to furnish water and provide for growth in rural areas of the counties; and
WHEREAS, municipal utility districts and special utility districts have been improperly used by certain developers to avoid compliance with county and city infrastructure plans;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association opposes the granting of additional powers to municipal utility districts and special utility districts and requests that the approval of the county be required before any further districts are created.
12. County Road Repair Program
WHEREAS, Texas is currently experiencing record oil and gas drilling activity; and
WHEREAS, new drilling and exploration technology has tremendously increased the oil and gas truck traffic on county roads; and
WHEREAS, this truck traffic has literally destroyed many county roads, creating a safety hazard for the public; and
WHEREAS, Texas counties are dependent upon the property tax and have no source of funding to repair the damage from this oil and gas truck traffic; and
WHEREAS, immediate assistance is required to protect the public and prevent further deterioration of the county roads;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association requests that the Texas Legislature provide assistance to Texas counties to repair and rehabilitate county roads.
West Texas County Judges and
2013 Resolutions Committee
Howard County Judge
Mark Barr – Chairman
Gaines County Judge
Ward County Commissioner
Tom Green County Commissioner
Hardeman County Judge
Gray County Judge Richard Peet
Midland County Commissioner
In addition to the above-adopted resolutions, the West Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association Resolutions Committee requests that the following items be recommended for future study and consideration:
County ownership of mineral rights in county roads.
County responsibility for cost of transport of dead bodies.
County responsibility for drug-resistant tuberculosis cases.
Recovery of cost of reproduction of clerk’s digitized records.
Tax valuation of refineries and new oil and gas production facilities, and new oil and gas interests.
Opposition to mandatory consolidation of appraisal districts.
Full funding for school vaccination program.
Allow counties to adopt an automatic procedure to qualify jail inmates as indigent for indigent health care.
State assume full responsibility for transport cost of jail inmates to TDCJ.
County authority to euthanize stray animals
Authorize counties to publish a single, simplified, combined tax rate and budget notice.
Support funding for water supply projects.