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Local Government and Politics in Texas. Chapter 22 O’Connor and Sabato American Government: Continuity and Change. Local Government & Politics in Texas. In this chapter we will cover… 1. Roots of local government in Texas 2. Counties 3. Cities 4. Special districts.

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local government and politics in texas

Local Government and Politics in Texas

Chapter 22

O’Connor and Sabato

American Government: Continuity and Change

local government politics in texas
Local Government & Politics in Texas
  • In this chapter we will cover…

1. Roots of local government in Texas

2. Counties

3. Cities

4. Special districts

roots of local government
Roots of Local Government
  • Colonial Period
  • Spain? Mexico governed Texas
  • Vast rural areas
  • Republic of Texas continued using districts established by Mexico
  • Cities as municipal corporations
  • Texas Constitution detailed regarding local government
  • Texas has the largest number of counties of any state – 254
  • County governments are multifunctional

(roads, public health, jails, elections)

  • County elections are partisan (four-year terms)
  • Authority is fragmented
  • Commissioners Court is primary governing entity
  • County judge, elected county-wide, is chief executive of the county
  • Commissioners court is the legislative body
  • Other elected officials include attorneys, sheriff, county clerks, tax assessor
  • County government authority is limited
  • County governments do not have ordinance-making authority
  • New issues require clarification of authority from legislature
  • Financing county government
    • relies heavily on property tax
    • more recently more fee sources of funds
    • collection and distribution of fees complicated
  • City charter – “constitution”
  • General law as legal framework
  • Home rule as legal framework
  • Forms of City Government

1. Home rule cities

a. weak mayor/council

b. strong mayor/council

c. council manager

d. city commissioner

  • City Government: authority & function

1. Multifunctional units of government

2. Major functions include police, fire, public works, recreation, and health

3. Cities have broad regulatory authority including zoning, buildings, signs, etc.

4. Role of Texas Municipal League: voice of the city in the capital

  • Financing city governments

1. Sources – sales and property tax plus federal and state funds

2. Capital operating budget

3. Cities must compete and attract new development

municipal annexation
Municipal Annexation
  • Annexation is complicated and controversial

1. unilateral power of home rule cities

2. controversy surrounds how annexation occurs, services provided to newly annexed areas

  • ETJ – extra territorial jurisdiction

1. beyond city limits: promote/protect general health, safety and welfare

2. controversies: land use, size, (city boundaries, developers etc.)

  • Representation

1. City elections are non-partisan

2. At-large and at-large by place

3. Single member districts

4. Cumulative voting

special districts
Special Districts
  • Provided for in the state Constitution
  • More than 3000 special districts in Texas
  • Water: droughts and water management
  • Schools: most common (1,042)
    • No uniformity
    • Schools set tax rates
    • Role of TEA/SBOE ( e.g., charter/ vouchers)
    • Big issue: school financing