Govt 2306 ch_3


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Texas Government (GOVT 2306) - Local Government

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Govt 2306 ch_3

  1. 1. Local Governments GOVT 2306 Chapter 3
  2. 2. Local Politics in Context  Cities, counties, and special districts (the grassroots governments) are limited in their effectiveness by the state’s antiquated constitution, which was written for a rural environment.  Local Governments and Federalism  Local governments are the units of government that actually deliver the services thought necessary by most Texans for the quality of their daily lives: drinking water, transportation, police and fire protection, public education, and the like.  Local governments may receive part of their money from the state or national governments, and they must obey the laws and constitutions of both.
  3. 3. Local Politics in Context  Grassroots Challenges  Local governments are facing increasingly diverse challenges while becoming increasingly diverse themselves.  Law Enforcement Issues  Controversies over public schools  Decaying infrastructures  Equal access to public services  Citizens have many opportunities to participate in local government, but few actually take part.  Most citizens see local government as less important than national government.  However, 80% of all Texans reside in cities and have immediate concerns pertaining to local government
  4. 4. Local Politics in Context
  5. 5. Municipal Governments  Whether taxing residents, arresting criminals, collecting garbage, providing public libraries, or repairing streets, municipalities determine how millions of Texans live.  Legal Status of Municipalities  The powers of municipal government are outlined and restricted by municipal charters, state and national constitutions, and statutes.  Local voters must decide the legal designation of their city.
  6. 6. Municipal Governments  Legal Status of Municipalities  General-Law Cities  A community with a population of 201 or more may become a general- law city by adopting a charter prescribed by a general law enacted by the Texas Legislature.  Limited to governmental structures and powers specifically granted by state law and the Texas Legislature  May exercise powers only expressly granted to it  May acts as the ex-officio judge of the municipal court  Unless the municipality authorizes the election of a judge by ordinance  Cannot annex adjacent unincorporated areas without the property owner’s consent
  7. 7. Municipal Governments  Legal Status of Municipalities  Home-Rule Cities  Cities with a population of greater than 5,000 may, by majority vote of their residents, adopt, amend, or repeal a locally drafted charter.  Flexibility  Every home-rule city may determine its own form and powers of city government, with more flexibility of taxing powers, as long as it does not violate state laws or the constitution.  Management  Home-rule cities are better able to cope with their own particular problems. Home-rule cities may exercise three powers not held by the state government: recall, initiative, and referendum.  Can also set procedures for passing and repealing ordinances  Can annex adjacent unincorporated property without consent  Must provide essential services for at least 3 years
  8. 8. Municipal Governments  Forms of Municipal Government  Strong Mayor-Council  This form of municipal government provides for a centralized authority to manage the complex problems of urban areas.  An elected legislative body (council) and an executive head (mayor) are elected in a citywide election with veto, appointment, and removal powers  Most of the nation’s largest cities use this form of local government.  However, only Houston and El Paso, among Texas’s largest cities, have adopted variations of it.
  9. 9. Municipal Governments  Forms of Municipal Government  Strong Mayor-Council  Characteristics of cities operating under this form  Council composed of members elected from single-member districts  Mayor elected at large, with power to appoint or remove department heads  Budgetary power exercised by the mayor, subject to council approval before the budget may be implemented  A mayor with the power to veto council actions
  10. 10. Municipal Governments
  11. 11. Municipal Governments  Forms of Municipal Government  Weak Mayor-Council  In this system, the mayor is one of several city executives responsible to the electorate.  Mayor and council are elected separately, but the mayor shares appointive and removal powers with the council, which can override the mayor’s veto  None of the ten largest cities in Texas uses this form of municipal government.  Once popular in smaller communities throughout the nation, it is now being abandoned because of the diffuse executive structure.  Conroe (Pop. 55,000) still uses this form  The more power centers there are, the more difficult problem solving becomes.
  12. 12. Municipal Governments  Forms of Municipal Government  Council-Manager  This form of municipal government has become the most popular among home-rule cities in Texas since it appeared in 1913.  Over 300 use this form today  The form prevails in the majority of Texas’s home-rule cities.  The council appoints a city manager to be responsible for budget coordination, policy implementation, and managing the city’s departments.  A separately elected mayor who presides over the council but has no other powers may be a part of the structure.  Similar to a mayor in the Weak Mayor-Council form
  13. 13. Municipal Governments  Forms of Municipal Government  Council-Manager  In theory, the form attempts to separate policymaking from administration  Council and mayor concern themselves with policymaking  The city manager concerns him/herself with administration and day-to- day issues  Issues  Grey area in defining the line between policymaking and administration  Lack of a leader whom citizens can bring concerns  Mayor is weak, council is numerous, and the city manager is supposed to “stay out of politics”  Typically, this form responds well to the elite and middle-class
  14. 14. Municipal Governments
  15. 15. Municipal Governments  Forms of Municipal Government  Commission  This form of municipal government lacks a chief executive, as each commissioner has administrative responsibility over a specific department.  Ex. Public Safety, Finance, Public Works, Welfare, Legal, etc.)  No Texas home-rule city currently has a pure commission form of government, though a few general-law towns and villages have variations on this structure.
  16. 16. Municipal Governments  Municipal Politics  Although municipal elections in Texas are nonpartisan, politics is not eliminated from local government.  Rules Make a Difference  All city and special district elections are nonpartisan in Texas. However, party politics is again becoming important in some city elections.  More and more Texas cities are changing from an at-large or place system to single-member district elections or cumulative voting.
  17. 17. Municipal Governments  Municipal Services  In the eyes of most citizens and city officials, the major job of city government is to provide basic services that affect people’s day- to-day lives:  police and fire protection, streets, water, sewer and sanitation, and perhaps parks and recreation.  Municipalities also regulate important aspects of our lives, notably zoning, construction, food service, and sanitation.
  18. 18. Municipal Governments  Municipal Government Revenue  Taxes  Cities are limited to raising funds from three tax sources: property, occupation, and sales.  The two largest tax sources in Texas —sales and property taxes—are limited by state law.  1 percent sales tax (collected with the state sales tax)  Cities also receive a share of some state-collected taxes.  Cities may implement a half-cent surtax on sales for a designated function by approval of a majority of the voters.
  19. 19. Municipal Governments  Municipal Government Revenue  Fees  Cities may collect a franchise fee from various privately owned public utilities, fees for issuing certain licenses and permits, and fees for services provided.  TABC municipality fees, building permits, franchise fees (based on gross receipts from telephone and cable TV companies)  Operation of electric, water, and gas utilties  Bonds  Money for capital improvements (such as construction of city buildings or parks) and emergencies (such as flood or hurricane damage) often must be obtained through the sale of bonds.  The Texas Constitution allows cities to issue bonds, but any bond issue to be repaid from taxes must be approved by the voters.
  20. 20. Check my SlideShare page (rfair07) for more lectures Lectures posted for:  United States History before 1877 / after 1877  Texas History  United States (Federal) Government / Texas Government  Slide 20 of 42  To download a full copy of this PowerPoint presentation, please go to:   If you would like a copy of all the Texas Government lectures posted in PDF format, please check out at: 