Local control: Texas has no city-states

Robert Pratt photo Copyright Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt

About so-called local control at the city and county level in Texas, it should be clear, but isn’t apparently, to citizens that we do not have self-governing city-states in Texas.

When cities put in red light cameras they had to create a new offense for running a red light which was purely civil and not even collectible under the force of a warrant. Why? Because the transportation code, or law, is a state issue. In general municipalities can only do the things they are allowed to do by state law.

The property tax is not a local control item for cities and counties. In fact, every element, every dot over an “i” and cross of a “t” involved in setting tax rates, levying, and collecting those taxes is defined by law set by the state legislature not local governing bodies.

The freedom for local officials to set a local tax rate is itself one given by state law through the legislature. There simply is not a history of local control in Texas in the manner being cited by local officials in their bid to sink a property tax reform which gives local voters a bit more recourse in times of massive local spending increases.

Local control in Texas allows local officials to set an annual property tax rate and to determine where those local funds are to be spent. There is no change to that element of local control in the reform being pushed in Austin.

There is already a threshold of eight percent that allows voters to demand a rollback election via petition so if that is an affront to the much ballyhooed “local control” then we’ve never had local control. The proposed reform lowers the rate from eight to five percent and makes the rollback election automatic. No matter how you look at it, this is an absolute increase in pure local control if anything.

What do you think?...

© Pratt on Texas / Perstruo Texas, Inc.