Tx Govt Ch 14 Vocab

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General purpose government

A municipal or county government that provides a wide range of public services. Compare special district.


Special district

A limited purpose local government that provides a narrow range of services not provided by general- purpose local governments such as cities or counties. Examples of special districts include municipal utility districts, hospital authorities, and transit authorities


General law city

A city with a population of 5,000 or fewer whose structure and organization are prescribed and limited by state law.


Home rule city

A city with a population greater than 5,000 that has exercised its legal option to write its own charter using any organizational structure that complies with state law.



The organizing document for a corporation or a municipality.


Recall election

An election, called by citizen petition, that permits voters to remove an elected official before the official’s term expires.


Council manager form of government

A form of government that features an elected city council and a city manager who is hired by the council. The council makes policy decisions, and the city manager is responsible for the day to day operations of the city government


Mayor council system

A form of municipal government consisting of a mayor and a city council; this form includes both strong mayor and weak mayor variations.


Strong mayor form of government

A form of municipal government in which substantial authority over appointments and budgets is lodged in the mayor’s office. The mayor is elected by voters in a citywide election.


Weak mayor form of government

A form of municipal government in which an elected mayor and city council share administrative responsibilities, often with other elected officers.


Commission form of government

A municipal government in which individual members of the commission head city departments and collectively act as a city council to pass ordinances.


At large city elections

Citywide elections. In many cities, some or all of the city council members are elected by voters of the entire municipality rather than from neighborhood districts.


Pure at large system

An electoral system in which candidates for city council run citywide and the top vote getters are elected to fill the number of open seats. Contrast this system with an at large place system.


At large place system

An electoral system in which candidates run citywide for a particular seat on the city council.


Single- member districts

Election districts in which one candidate is elected to a legislative body. In city council elections, single member districts are contrasted with at large citywide elections. Members from single member districts tend to feel greater loyalty to the residents of their own neighborhoods because they are not elected citywide.


Cumulative voting .

An at large election system that permits voters to cast one or more votes for a single candidate. For example, if a voter can cast up to five votes in a city council election, all five votes could be cast for one candidate or spread among several candidates


Term limits

Restrictions on the number of times that a politician can be reelected to an office or the number of years that a person may hold a particular office.


Rollback election

An election that permits the voters to decide if a property tax increase (of more than 8 percent) approved by a local government will remain in effect or be reduced to 8 percent.


User fees approval.

Fees paid by the individuals who receive a particular government service, such as sewage disposal or garbage collection.


Public debt

Money owed by government, ordinarily through the issuance of bonds. Local governments issue bonds to finance major projects with voter



A federal or state requirement that a lower level of government, like a city or county, provide a service or meet standards, often as a condition for receiving financial aid.



A policy that permits a city to bring unincorporated areas into the city’s jurisdiction.


Extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ)

A buffer area that may extend beyond a city’s limits. Cities can enforce some laws such as zoning and building codes in their ETJs.



Severely impoverished unincorporated areas facing a variety of problems, including substandard housing, unsanitary drinking water, and lack of proper sewage disposal.


County government

A general purpose local government that also serves as an administrative arm of the state. Texas has 254 counties more than any other state.


Commissioners court

The policy making body of a county, consisting of a county judge (the presiding officer of the court), who is elected in a countywide election to a four year term, and four commissioners, who are elected from individual precincts to four year terms.


County judge

An official elected countywide to preside over the county commissioners court and to try certain minor cases.



The chief county law enforcement officer. Although the sheriff is an elected official in Texas, his or her budget must be approved by the commissioners court.



A county law enforcement official who is elected to serve as the process officer of justice of the peace courts and also has general law enforcement powers.


Tax assessor collector

A county financial officer whose responsibilities include collecting various county taxes and fees and registering voters.


County treasurer

In many counties, the official who is responsible for receiving, depositing, and disbursing funds.


County auditor

A financial officer whose duties may include reviewing county financial records and, in large counties, serving as chief budget officer.


County clerk

The chief record keeper and election officer of a county.


Short ballot

The listing of only a few independently elected offices on an election ballot.


Unit road system

A system that concentrates the day to day responsibilities for roads in the hands of a professional engineer rather than individual county commissioners. The engineer is ultimately responsible to the commissioners court.


District clerk

The record keeper for the district court in counties with a population exceeding 8,000.


County attorney

A county legal officer whose responsibilities may include giving legal advice to the commissioner’s court, representing the county in litigation, and prosecuting crimes. In counties that also elect a district attorney, the county attorney specializes in civil matters.


District attorney

A county officer who prosecutes criminal cases and also handles civil matters in many counties.



The merging of county government with other local governments to form a single local government.


Dependent agency

A classification created by the U. S. Census Bureau for governmental entities that are closely tied to general purpose governments but do not have as much independence as special district governments.


Councils of government (COGs)

Advisory bodies consisting of representatives of various local governments brought together for the purposes of regional planning and cooperation.