County Government

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County Officials. County JudgeServes as the county's chief administrator and head of the commissioners courtServes a four-year termElected at-large through a partisan election. Commissioners CourtMade up of four commissionersServe four-year terms; two elected every two yearsRepresent single-member districtsAvery v. Midland County: all districts must have equal populationselections are partisanDuties:setting tax rates, passing the county budget, making personnel decisions, and constr140

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County Government

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1. County Government County governments are an administrative arm of the state government and assist in collecting state fees and taxes registering voters and conducting elections enforcing state laws and administering justice maintaining public records administering public health and welfare programs maintaining a hospital, courthouse, and county jails issuing automobile licenses maintaining county roads and bridges

2. County Officials County Judge Serves as the countys chief administrator and head of the commissioners court Serves a four-year term Elected at-large through a partisan election

3. Commissioners Court Made up of four commissioners Serve four-year terms; two elected every two years Represent single-member districts Avery v. Midland County: all districts must have equal populations elections are partisan Duties: setting tax rates, passing the county budget, making personnel decisions, and construction and maintenance of roads, jails, and the county courthouse County Officials

4. County Sheriff Serves as the countys head law enforcement officer Elected at-large to a four-year term Qualifications: must be 21 years old; must have a high school diploma; and must be/become a certified peace officer Duties: enforcing law in the county, administering the county police force, and operating the county jail County Officials

5. Constables Serve as law enforcement officers Elected from single-member districts to four-year terms Qualifications: must have a high-school education, be a certified peace officer, and be bonded Duties: often serve the Justice of the Peace Courts, executing warrants and citations; other duties may be assigned by the county County Officials

6. Justice of the Peace Serve as judges in misdemeanor cases and small civil cases (ex. traffic court, truancy cases, rent disputes) May serve as the county coroner in small counties Elected to single-member districts to four-year terms Must have 40 hours in criminal justice training County Officials

7. County Attorney Serves as the chief prosecutor for the county and as a legal advisor to the county commissioners court handles criminal misdemeanor cases and civil cases (ex. child support, property taxes, hot checks, etc.) serves alongside a District Attorney who handles cases in the state district courts May be elected (at-large) or appointed Serves a four-year term Must have a law degree County Officials

8. County Clerk Serves as the countys record keeper; the clerk for the commissioners court; and as the countys elections officer Some counties elect a separate elections officer Duties: maintaining deeds, wills, mortgages, birth and death records, marriage licenses, voter registration records, and county election results many of these records also are kept by the District Clerks Office Elected at-large to a four-year term County Officials

9. County Tax Assessor-Collector Collects county taxes and fees and may handle voter registration County tax appraisal districts assesses property values for ad valorem taxes (property taxes) Treasurers receive funds and make payments on behalf of the county commissioners court County Auditor serves as the countys chief budget officer and reviews the countys financial records Appointed by the countys District Court judges County Officials

10. County Funding Property taxes (ad valorem taxes) Motor vehicle registration fees, vehicle sales taxes, and vehicle title fees Fuel taxes Traffic tickets issued in unincorporated areas of the county Liquor license fees and a percentage of state liquor receipts Bonds: county debt is limited to 35% of the countys actual property value Federal and state grants

11. County Government Problems The state constitution does not allow counties home-rule status ordinances must be approved by the state legislature counties face restrictions on spending Most spending devoted to state-mandated programs Voter apathy media attention and citizen involvement is needed to overcome many local/county issues

12. Special Districts Special District (special purpose) governments are able to exercise taxing or regulatory power over a particular policy area and operate independently of other local governments

13. Special Districts School districts are the most common special districts 1000 school districts and 50 community college and junior college districts in Texas funded by local property taxes, state funds, and/or tuition payments controlled by elected boards

14. Special Districts Noneducational Special Districts There are over 1,000 water and utility districts, housing districts, water conservation districts, hospital districts, mass transit authorities, airport districts, mosquito control districts, waste disposal, and other districts in Texas headed by either elected or appointed boards funded through property taxes or sales taxes

15. Special Districts Issues surrounding the creation of many municipal utility districts include the need to coordinate actions among many surrounding local governments questions over the creation of metropolitan governments the explosion in the number of special districts the need to raise tax revenues or state funding

16. Metropolitan Areas and Councils of Government Regional councils of governments were created to help coordinate the actions of local and county governments save money by eliminating many duplicated local projects and governments help process local grant applications

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