Local Governments by jolinmilioncherie


									           Local Governments

               Chapter 26

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Local governments have a greater effect on
 our lives…
There are 254 counties, about 1200 city
 governments, & >3,000 special dist.
There are various types of special districts.

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           I. Local Politics in Context

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A. Local Governments & Federalism

 1. Federalism has two levels: national &
    state governments.
 2. Local governments are “creatures of the
 3. Intergovernmental relations (def) is
    another term for federalism.

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           B. Grass Roots Challenges

1. Delivery of Services (water, public safety,
2. Grassroots Governments (limited by the
   state constitution)
3. Need for More Citizen Involvement (very
   few people participate).

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           II. Municipal Governments

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            Definition of Municipal

Municipal (city) government (def) a local
 government for an incorporated community
 established by law as a city.

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                   A. Legal Status of

1. General-Law Cities – cities with 201-
   5000 pop. Receive a charter from the state
2. Home-Rule Cities – cities with >5,000
   pop. May decide on their own form of

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3. Three Special Powers of H-R Cities

  a. Recall (def) process of removing an
     elected official.
  b. Initiative (def) a proposed law, presented
     by petition.
  c. Referendum (def) issues referred to the
     voters to accept or reject

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       B. Forms of City Government
                        (four types)
                    1. Strong mayor-
                       council form
                    2. Weak mayor-council
                    3. Council-manager
                    4. Commission form

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  1. Strong Mayor-Council Form
a. (Def) a separately elected council & a
   mayor, with veto, appointment, and
   removal powers.
b. Characteristics:
•    single-member dist. Councilmen
• At-large mayor
• Mayor has power to budget
• Mayor has veto power
c. Used in Houston and El Paso
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     2. Weak Mayor-Council Form
The mayor is one of several city councilmen,
 with no additional powers. (Still used in

Mayor Tommy Metcalf
         of Conroe >>>
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           3. Council-Manager Form

• A mayor is elected at large, with few
• The council makes general policy
• A city manager is hired by the council to
  run the city’s depts.
• A manager can earn $200,000+/yr.

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                4. Commission Form

• No mayor; one commissioner over each
• Presently, no city in Texas uses a pure form
  of this government.
• Major weakness… no mayor!

 (Galveston Storm, 1900) >>>
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              C. Municipal Politics
1. Texas cities have non-partisan elections.
2. Cities must re-district every 10 years.
3. Two types of city elections in Texas…
   a. At-large elections (def)
   b. Single-member district elections (def)
   c. Type “b” has become more popular.

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4. Cumulative voting (def)
   voters vote one or more of
   the specified number of
   votes for one or more
   candidates (in any
5. “Place system” candidates
   run for a particular “place”
   (number on the council) all
   can vote for each place the
 Cities may require term
   limits for candidates.
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              D. Municipal Services
1. Establishment Power
  Historically, bankers and businessmen
  represented the power in city politics. (No
  longer true).
2. Flexibility in City Services
  Most cities have advisory boards &
  commissions to give advice to the city
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           E. City Government Revenue

1. Taxes come from 3 major sources:
   property, occupation, and sales.
2. Fees are collected from private utility
   companies, licenses, and permits.
3. Burrowing comes from general
   obligation bonds and revenue bonds.

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4. Property Taxes & Tax Exemptions
  In hard times, real estate values go down,
   which cuts local tax revenue.
  Homestead and other exemptions also cut
   into the “pie.”
  There may be “tax caps”, as well.
  Each county has a tax appraisal district, to
   re-appraise values; which property owners
   usually don’t like…
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                     5. The Bottom Line

  With the dislike of increasing tax rates the
  result is oblivious…
 Raise fees or create new ones.
 Impose hiring/wage freezes.
 Cut services
 Contract with private firms.
 Improve employee productivity.
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           F. Generating Revenue for
              Economic Development
                    • Federal & state $$$ is
                    • Cities may elect to have a
                      local ½% sales tax.
                    • Some have created TRZs
                      (Tax Reinvestment zones).

                     <<<American Airlines
                         Center, Dallas
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           III. Counties

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           A. County Organization &
1.     Commissioners Court
      Made up of 4 commissioners and the county judge.
      They adopt the county budget.
      Provide county buildings
      Maintain county roads
      Administer county health & welfare programs
      Administer all general elections

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                           County Judge

• Executive office of the county
• Fills vacancies on the commissioner’s court
  and my write the county budget
• Hears cases in the county court
• Does not need a law degree.

• Judge Drue Bynum      =>>>
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             3. County Attorney & Sheriff
• The county attorney is
  the chief legal officer of
  the county (if there is no
  district attorney).
• The county sheriff is the
  chief law enforcement
  officer of the county.

  J. Keith Gary, Sheriff >>
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4. County Clerk & Tax Assessor
               • The county clerk keeps
                 the county records.
               • The tax assessor-
                 collector collects
                 county taxes.

               <<< John W. Ramsey,
                 Grayson County Tax
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   4. County Treasurer & Auditor
• County Treasurer          • County Auditor
• Receives and pays out     • The auditor checks the
  all funds as authorized     account books of all
  by the commissioners        county officials for
  court,                      correctness.
                            • He/she may also
                              prepare the county

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               6. Appointed Officials
   Some counties hire officials to run certain
   programs, such as airports, hospitals, etc.

           (Grayson County Airport)
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                   B. County Finance
1. Taxation (Revenue – County Income)
   Largest part is from property taxes.
2. Revenues from Non-Tax Sources--
   selling bonds, liquor fees, %age of state
   taxes, returned to the county.
3. Tax Incentives – tax abatements,
   reimbursements, or TIFs (tax increment
   financing) to attract or retain businesses.

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                 4. The Bottom Line

Texas counties are under pressure to raise
  property taxes or cut services. Revenue is
  not increasing…

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                      5. Expenditures

 Spending patterns very, because of the
  different sizes and needs of counties.
 Roads, bridges, social services, and
  unfunded state mandates

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    C. County Government Reform

1. Rule-making power is needed.
2. A chief executive is also needed
3. The county road systems need an

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                 D. Border Counties

1. Fast growing South Texas has problems
   with colonias and infrastructure, which
   are made worse by anti-tax feelings in
2. However, federal funding has increased
   there, to fight possible terrorism.

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           IV. Special Districts

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                    A. School Districts
1. There are 1,000+ ISDs in Texas.
2. Conservatives and liberals have different ideas,
   concerning education:
a. Conservatives want self-rule school boards, cash
   vouchers, and charter schools.
b. Liberals are opposed to all of these things.
c. School financing is a continual problem
d. The “No Child Left Behind” Law is also

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           B. Junior or Community
                  College Districts
                   These are financed by
                     local taxes and the
                     fastest growing
                     education group in
                   Texas has 75 community
                     colleges >500,000
                     students (some like
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C. Non-Educational Special Districts
•  There are >1,000 of these and they
   include; water, utility, housing, soil &
   water conservation, hospital, public
   transit, etc.
1. Municipal utility districts (MUDs) benefit
   real estate developers.
2. Many new types have developed in the
   past 10 years
3. Still solving problems with more units of
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           V. Metropolitan Areas

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A. Councils of Governments (COGs)
      (Def) advisory groups made up of local
       governments that perform regional
       planning activities.
      They have no taxing or lawmaking
      They may led to metro governments (def)
       consolidation of local governments in an
       urban area under a single authority.

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           B. Municipal Annexation
              (Stopgap Approaches)

1. Municipal Annexation – cities may annex
   beyond their limits. Extraterritorial
   jurisdiction is allowed (def) limited
   authority outside its boundaries.
2. Intergovernmental contracting
3. Creations of new districts
4. Future Alternatives – big changes will be
   slow and require constitutional amendments
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