Local Texas Government

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1

County governments

are less flexible than city government in its organization and functions. They do not have home rule option.

2

What are local Governments?

Units that provide everyday services to people. (ie. drinking water, transportation, education, emergency services, and other basic services).

3

Name the forms of local governments in Texas.

1. Municipalities (cities)

2. Counties

3. Special Districts

4. Councils of Government

4

How are Local Governments formed?

States create them under their reserved powers.

5

In the Texas Constitution, provisions dealing with local governments are found in articles:

3, 5,8,9,11, and 16.

6

Texas has what kind of government?

Unitary system of government.

7

Who gives local governments their power?

The state.

8

What is a general-law city?

An incorporated community with a population of 5,000 or fewer, has no charter and may only exercise those powers granted by state law.

9

A city with a population of more than 5,000 may, by majority vote become a ____.

home-rule city.

10

The vast majority of Texas cities are ____.

general-law cities.

11

The organizing document for a municipality:

City charter.

12

A home-rule city may ____.

adopt its own charter and structure its local government as it sees fit as long as charter provisions and local laws do not violate national and state constitutions and laws.

13

Give examples of home-rule cities.

Houston, Arlington, Dallas

14

Home rule allows local voters to participate directly through:

1. Initiative

2. Referendum

3. Recall

15

Initiative

An election method that empowers citizens to place a proposal on the ballot for voter approval. If the measure passes, it becomes law. It proposes new laws for consideration. (not at state level)

16

Referedum

An election that permits voters to approve or repeal an existing law. It repeals already passed laws. (not at state level)

17

Recall election

An election, called by petition, which permits voters to remove an elected official before the official’s term expires. (permitted in some Texas cities but not at the state level).

18

Council-Manager System

  • The council is elected and holds the legislative and executive authority, but a professional manager is hired to oversee the daily functions of the government and is the "boss" of the city departments.
  • The manager will prepare the budget, make recommendations, but he has no power to check on the council!
  • The Mayor has limited or no veto power (weak institutional powers). Other powers : making appearances at special events and welcoming visiting dignitaries.
19

Mayor-Council System

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

20

Strong-mayor form of government

The city mayor, who is chosen in a city-wide election, is both the chief executive and the leader of the city council.

21

Weak mayor form of government

The mayor and council share administrative authority.

22

In Texas, all city elections are ____.

nonpartisan.

23

Nonpartisan

Parties do not nominate candidates or campaign for them.

24

Election system options:

at-large or single-member district system

25

Pure at-large system

An election system in which candidates run citywide and voters elect all of the members of the council to fill the number of open seats. * Example, 20 candidates running for 6 seats, the six candidates getting the most votes are elected.

26

At-large place system

An election system in which each candidate runs citywide for a specific seat on the council and voters cast one vote for each seat or place. * Example, Candidates running for place 1, different candidates running for place 2, etc.….

27

Single-member council districts

An electoral system in which each council member is elected from a specific district by only the voters who live in that district.

28

Cumulative voting

People cast the number of votes equal to the number of seats available. For example, If there are six seats a voter may cast 3 votes for one candidate, 2 for a second, and 1 for a third; or they may cast 6 votes for one candidate.

29

Term limits

is to restrict the number of times that a member can be reelected to a local office or the number of years that a person may hold a particular office.

30

Name cities revenue sources.

1. Property tax

2. Sales tax

3. User fees

4. Public debt

31

How many counties does Texas have?

254

32

Article 9 of the Texas Constitution is labeled as "Counties" and consists of 17 sections and provides ____.

rules for the creation of counties and determining the location of county seats.

33

Commissioners court

The policy-making body of a county, consisting of a county judge (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.

34

Law enforcement officers are:

county sheriff and constable

35

The sheriff is the ____.

chief county law enforcement officer. He operates the city jail, hires deputies and deliver and execute court papers.

36

Constables are:

county law enforcement officials who serve as process officers of justices of the peace courts.

37

Financial officers of the county include:

the tax assessor-collector, the treasurer, and the auditor .

38

The tax assessor-collector responsibilities include:

collecting various county taxes and fees and registering voters.

39

The treasurer is responsible for:

receiving, depositing, and disbursing funds. (the county’s banker ).

40

The county auditor’s duties include:

reviewing county financial records and serving as chief budget officer. (appointed to a 2 year term by district judges).

41

County clerk

The county clerk serves as chief record-keeper and election officer. This office also issues marriage licenses.

42

District clerk

The official record-keepers for the District Courts

43

County attorney

Responsible for giving legal advise to the commissioners court and representing the county in litigation.

44

District attorney

Officers who prosecute felony cases.

45

Criticism of County Government and Proposed Reform

Inability to establish Home Rule (Not allowed to use their own structure in order to satisfy their individual needs and problems).

Long Ballot

46

Short ballot

The listing of only a few elected offices on the ballot.

47

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.

48

Consolidation (City-county)

The merging or joining of responsibilities by counties and other local governments in order to reduce the number of local governments.

49

Spoils System (Who do you know)

A system that gives elected officials considerable discretion in employment and promotion analysis.

50

Merit system ( What you know)

An employment system based on specific qualifications and performance.

51

Special Districts

Local governments that provide single services not provided by counties or cities.

52

Name the two types of Special Districts in Texas.

1. Independent school district.

2. Non-school special district.

53

Why create a special district?

1. A city or county may have limited revenue.

2. Only a small area within a city or county may need the service.

54

What are some problems with Special Districts?

1. They are sometimes called “hidden governments” because the actions of district officials and employees are less visible than if a county or city provided the services; board elections are not held at the same time as general elections, so the voter turnout is quite low.

2. May have little or no authority to tax, they are forced to borrow money by issuing revenue bonds.

55

The purpose of councils of governments (COGs) is to ____.

encourage coordination and communication between local government officials within a specific region, they have no taxing power and cannot pass laws.

56

The COG provides:

1. Regional planning

2. Provide training for city managers, council members, mayors, and other elected and appointed officials

3. Help in applying for grants.

57

By bringing local officials together,____.

COGs provide a base for the exchange of ideas and knowledge that is of substantial value.