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Local and County Governments
Terms in this set (44)
Voter turnout at the local level is very high. It is common for voter turnout in a local election to exceed 50%.
Governmental Powers of Cities
• police and fire
• street construction and design
Proprietary Powers of Cities
• operation and maintenance of a public utility
• amusements owned by the city
City Charter (Defined)
• like a constitution for the city - establishes the govt structure of the city and distributes power among the branches of govt at the city level
• a city may elect home rule status (draft an independent city charter) once it exceeds 5,000 population and the voters agree to home rule
• home rule cities have more power than general law
• can annex adjacent property at will without the consent of property owners
3/4 of Texas municipalities are classified as general law cities.
• the power of citizens to directly propose legislation
• power of citizens to remove an elected official from the office before their term ends
• power of citizens to repeal unpopular city ordinances that the council refuses to change
Home rule cities can instate term limits on elected officials.
Mayor-Council (strong mayor or weak mayor?)
• widely used in rural or less populated areas
• no city manager necessary
• doesn't have any of the powers of the 'strong mayor'
• the power to appoint and remove dept heads
• the power to prepare the city's budget
• the power to veto ordinances and actions taken by the city council
• used by most medium and large-sized cities
• voters elect a city council and a mayor
• council and mayor hire a city manager
What are the powers of the city council in a Council-Manager form of government?
• approves of policy (ordinances)
• approves the budget
• sets the tax rate
What are the powers of a city manager in a Council-Manager form of government?
• enforces all city ordinances, rules and regulations
• supervises all municipal employees and programs
• prepares city's budget
• manages the city's funds and creates financial reports and advises the council about the city's financial condition
• provides information to the council help them make informed decisions
• can hire or fire at will
• direct supervision & executive powers over a specific dept by an elected commissioner
Municipal elections are non-partisan.
At Large Elections
• most common
• entire city is the district so everyone selects whomever they choose
• candidates run against one another and the top vote-getters win
• council members could wind up all living in same neighborhood or even same street
• most common in smaller cities
• city is the district but candidates must run for a particular place (seat) on the council
• candidates can choose which seat to run for
• council members could wind up all living in same neighborhood or even same street
• trend for larger cities- to establish single-member districts across the city
• city is divided into districts and voters within those districts may only vote for candidates who reside within them
• ethnic groups
• neighborhood associations
• municipal employee groups
• an independent, autonomous organization that comes up with its own purpose and is open to all adults who live within its boundaries
• goal- make neighborhood better and improve quality of life
Municipal Employee Groups
• employees banding together to lobby at the state and local level
• Dallas Firefighters Association
Provide an example of a municipal employee group:
• Texas Municipal Police Association
• most rely heavily on property taxes
General Obligation Bonds:
• sold when the city needs to raise money to build or improve city owned facilities
• sold fro the construction or improvement of city-owned property that expected to generate revenue, like a sports arena or water park
• has 4 commissioner and is presided over by the constitutional county judge
• NOT a court; strictly admin body (resembles city council)
Constitutional County Judge Role on the Commissioners Court:
• presides over the Commissioners Court
• participate in the activities of the court
• they can only vote in the event of a tie
• sole authority to determine whether an indiv will be prosecuted for any criminal offense higher than a Class C Misdemeanor
What is the purpose of the Misdemeanor Unit in the DA's Office?
• 2 main functions:
• prosecute all Class A & B misdemeanor cases filed in Tarrant County
• to train and educate prosecutors to be effective & ethical attorneys
What is a determinate sentence?
• juvie until 18 then continue sent. in prison- up to 40yrs
• 14-17- tried as adult (up to 99 years; capital case- life without parole)
At what age can juveniles be tried as adults in the state of Texas?
If a juvenile is convicted of a capital offense, what is the punishment he/she will receive?
• life without parole
In Tarrant County, can you drop the charges if you don't want the person who harmed you to go to trial?
• maintains the county's legal records and vital stats such as birth and death records as well as marriage and divorce records
• keeps track of "real property"
• doesn't asses taxes anymore but has the important responsibility of identifying taxable property and collecting taxes due to the state and county
• when you register your car or buy a car, you pay this person
• county's official bookkeeper
• tracks money coming in and out
• tracks all collections and expenditures and has considerable input in developing county's budget
• Tarrant County abolished this dept. and this duty was transferred to the commissioners court
County Government Finance
• can only tax your property according to TX constitution
Criticisms of County Government
• long ballot- up to 50 elected positions voters must choose
• no home rule- counties constitutionally prohibited from establishing home rule
• prevents them from tailoring their system of govt to needs & desires of their residents
• no ordinances- commissioners court cannot create countywide ordinances (unless specifically authorized by the state - like a dry county)
• spoils system- process of awarding govt jobs & contracts to indiv and companies that helped in the elected officials campaign
Counties may not pass countywide ordinances.
Examples of Non-Educational Special Districts
• water, utility, public housing, hospital, public transportation, flood control, & mass transit districts
Councils of Government (COGs) - Purposes
• provide training for city managers, city council members, and other elected and appointed officials
• assesses the future environmental, transportation, econ. development, labor & land uses
• share research info
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Local and County Government
Chapter 5: Local Governments in Texas
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