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Considerable authority has been delegated to local governments by the State of Texas. These local governments are special districts, municipal, counties, councils of governments and cities. A total of 254 counties are present within the State of Texas. On the basis of 5-member Commissioners’ Court, each county operates. A county judge is elected at-large and 4 commissioners are elected from single-member districts. The overall county policy is determined by the commissioners’ court.
Limited regulatory authority is granted to counties in Texas. Numerous special districts are also maintained within the State of Texas in addition to counties and cities. On a non-partisan basis, the trustees or board members are elected as with municipal elections in Texas. The independent school district is one of the most common districts. Other special districts involve community colleges, road districts, public hospitals, water supply districts, river authorities and Groundwater Conservation Districts.
As mentioned above, there are 3 types of local governments within the State of Texas, i.e., special districts, municipal, county, councils of governments, and cities. The purpose of special districts is to acquire governing boards that achieve functions such as use of public funds and to serve limited areas. Individuals living within the designated geographic area are provided specialized services by special districts. Various functions including gas utility, electric power, water supply, stadiums, solid waste, sewerage, conservation, irrigation, hospitals, cemeteries, parks, libraries, fire protection, parking facilities, mass transit, highways, water ports, and airports are performed by special districts. In the economic development of local areas, a significant role is being played by Texas County Government.
To provide social and health services to various poor county residents, to conduct elections and to provide law enforcement is the main purpose of Texas County Government. Registering voters, issuing vehicle transfers and registration, collecting property taxes, maintaining public records, operating the judicial system, operating and constructing jails, and maintaining and building county airports and recreational facilities are some of the main functions performed by the Texas County Government. Debt or taxes cannot be levied by councils of governments (COGs) and are also known as ‘regional planning commissions’.
They are area-wide and voluntary associations of local governments. By planning governmental facilities and programs on a regional basis, by serving as forums for intergovernmental problem-solving, to foster local cooperation among localities is the main function of COGs. Both proprietary and governmental, greatest number of functions are performed by cities. These include the maintenance and operations of amusements operated and owned by a city, and of a public utility.
The city and the county functions have been consolidated by some states into a single governmental entity, which is known as a city-county consolidation. Powers of both types of entities is provided to this consolidation. To address certain governmental challenges is the main rational behind this consolidation. These consolidations have the potential to improve accountability, enhance planning capacity, improve resource base, increase efficiency, and produce cost savings.
In the Texas legislator, many city-county consolidations bills have failed to win passage, therefore, I believe that Texas would be better served by maintaining its distinct and several types of government. Moreover, it will be quite difficult for Texas to pull off these consolidations politically, as in each of the combining jurisdictions a vote of the electorate is usually required by consolidations and power has to be given up by someone.