Are Some Government Attorneys Peace Officers

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					 CHAPTER 26:
 Municipalities are general purpose local governments.
  Texas municipalities are classified as either general-
  law or home-rule cities.
 General Law Cities:
   – Incorporated with a population of 5,000 or less.
   – About 75% of Texas cities are classified as general law
 Home-rule cities :
   – Incorporated cities with a population of 5,000 or more.
   – Home-rule cities may adopt their own charter
   – Recall, Initiative, Referendum
Forms of Government

There are three common forms of municipal
  – council-manager
  – mayor-council
  – commission
Council-Manager Form of Gov’t

Features an elected city council and a city
 manager who is hired by the council.
The council makes policy decisions
The city manager is responsible for the day to
 day operations of city government.
Mayor-Council Form of Gov’t

Found in two forms:
  – In the strong-mayor form the mayor who is elected
    at-large is both chief executive and legislature
  – The weak-mayor form lacks unified lines of
    authority, since the mayor and council share
    administrative authority.
Commission System of Gov’t

An election system that permits members of a
 city council to also serve as heads of city
Municipal Election Systems

 At-large elections are citywide elections. In a pure at-
  large system, voters elect all the members of the city
  council. With the at-large place system, candidates run
  for a particular seat on the council.
 Single-member districts is an election system in which
  members of city council are elected from individual
  districts by voters who live in each district.
 One alternative system is cumulative voting, which is
  an at-large election system that permits voters to cast
  one or more votes for a single candidate.
Revenue Sources and Limitations

 Property taxes where the revenue is based on a percent of
  assessed value of real property.
 User fees, or charging citizens for services received, are also
  popular for two reasons:
   – citizen opposition to higher taxes, and
   – the notion that people should pay for what they actually use.
 Local governments utilize public debt infrastructure projects
  such as roads, buildings, and public facilities.
 Rollback election is an election that permits the voters to decide
  if a property tax increase ( of more than eight percent) approved
  by a local government will remain in effect or be reduced to
  eight percent.
 Issues and Trends
 According to the 2000 Census, some Texas cities grew more
  rapidly than others in the 1990s.
 Development Corporation Act is a state law that allows select
  Texas cities to raise the sales tax for economic development.
 A mandate is an order imposed by a higher-level government
  requiring a lower-level government to meet an obligation.
 Annexation is a policy that permits a city to add unincorporated
  areas into the city’s jurisdiction.
 The Municipal Annexation Act establishes a buffer area known
  as extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) that extends from one-half
  to five miles beyond the city’s limits, depending on the city’s
 Term limits restrict the number of times that a politician can be
  reelected to a local office.

 The state constitution sets-up the 254 Texas counties.
 Functions of Counties
   – County government is responsible for administering county,
     state, and national elections.
   – County government acts for the state in
      •   securing rights-of-way for highways
      •   law enforcement
      •   registering births, deaths, and marriages
      •   housing state district courts
      •   registering motor vehicles
      •   recording land titles and deeds, and
      •    collecting some state taxes and fees.
Structure & Organization of Counties
 County governments consist of a number of independently
  elected officials.
 The commissioners court is the policymaking body of a county.
   – Consists of a county judge and four commissioners.
 Law enforcement officers are the county sheriff and constable.
   – The sheriff is the chief county law enforcement officer.
   – Constables are county law enforcement officials who serve as process
     officers of justices of the peace courts.
 Financial officers of the county include the tax assessor-
  collector, the treasurer, and the auditor.
   – The tax assessor-collector responsibilities include collecting various
     county taxes and fees and registering voters.
   – The treasurer is responsible for receiving, depositing, and disbursing
   – The county auditor’s duties include reviewing county financial records
     and serving as chief budget officer.
Structure & Organization of Counties

 Clerical officers in the county are the county and district clerks.
   – The county clerk serves as chief record-keeper and election officer.
   – The district clerk’s role is to be record-keeper for the district’s courts.
 Legal officers, known as county attorneys and/or district
  attorneys, perform a variety of functions.
   – County attorneys are responsible for giving legal advise to the
     commissioners court,
   – Representing the county in litigation,
   – Prosecuting felonies and misdemeanors.
 District attorneys are officers who prosecute felony cases.
Issues and Trends
 Constitutional Rigidity
 Long Ballot
   – Reformers recommend a short ballot which is the listing of only a few
     independently elected offices on and election ballot.
 Unit Road System
   – This system takes the day to day responsibility for roads away from
     individual county commissioners and concentrates it in the hands of a
     professional engineer.
 A Spoils System
   – A system that gives elected officials considerable discretion in
     employment and promotion analysis.
   – Opponents of these practices propose a merit system that bases
     employment and promotion on specific qualifications and performance.
 Consolidation
   – The merging or joining of responsibilities by counties and other local
     governments is a suggestion for reforming county government.
Special Districts: The Hidden
 Special districts are local governments that provide
  single or closely related services that are not provided
  by general-purpose county’s or municipal
   – Special districts are the most numerous of all local
     governments in Texas.
   – Special districts provide a service that other local
     governments will not or cannot provide.
   – Special districts may be dissolved when no longer needed.
   – Dissolution of a special district is frequently accomplished
     through annexation and assumption of the district’s functions
     and debts by a municipality.
Special Districts: Issues and
 Multiple Governments on the Rise
 The rise of special district governments is of concern
  for two reasons.
   – Special districts are commonly regarded as “hidden”
     governments in which the actions of officials and employees
     are less visible than if the services were provided by a county
     or city.
   – When special district elections are held at times or places
     other than those for general elections, voter turnout is quite
The Costs of Special Districts

Special districts are small, they purchase in
 limited quantities at higher prices than larger
Special districts may have little or no authority
 to tax, they are forced to borrow money by
 issuing revenue bonds.
Councils of Governments (COGs)

 Councils of government (COGs) represent an attempt
  by the state to encourage coordination of local
  government activities on a regional basis.
  – The COG provides several significant services to its
    membership, including
      • regional planning,
      • technical services, and
      • help in applying for grants.
  – By bringing local officials together, COGs provide a base for
    the exchange of ideas and knowledge that is of substantial

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