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Senate Interim Committee on Intergovernmental Relations

CITY-COUNTY CONSOLIDATION

Charge

Study and make recommendations on consolidating county and municipal government services.
Background

In the 74th Legislature, the Senate passed S.J.R. 47, which would have proposed a constitutional amendment authorizing the voters of certain counties and certain political subdivisions to create a consolidated government. However, the bill failed to pass in the House. The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee held statewide hearings during the interim on the issue.

Several Texas cities encompass most of their respective counties, or the cities' populations account for the vast majority of the counties' populations. Consequently, according to consolidation supporters, two levels of government exist for the same residents, and services are duplicative. Consolidation opponents said counties and cities perform distinct functions, and combining governments would dilute minority representation.
Recommendations

  • The legislature should establish a citizens' Commission on Consolidation and Regional Issues. The commission would examine the following:

  • The effect of consolidation on minority voting;

  • The potential and scope of current options under inter-local agreements;

  • The historical perspective and public understanding of consolidation; and

  • The impact of consolidation on regional matters.

  • By December 31, 1998, the commission would issue a recommendation to the legislature on pursuing city-county consolidation. Establishing the commission would not impede independent consolidation efforts.

    URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
    Charge

    Study and make recommendations regarding the problems of urban infrastructure, recognizing the deterioration in such areas and the shift of population and businesses to suburban areas.
    Background

    The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee held statewide hearings during the interim and identified three issues regarding infrastructure needs: streets and bridges, affordable housing, and sports facilities.
    Recommendations

  • Create an alternative source of revenue to capitalize the Texas Housing Trust Fund to maximize its lending power for developing affordable housing in the low-income housing market.

  • Create an Enterprise Zone "Qualified Builder" category separate from "Enterprise Project" to encourage housing developers to rehabilitate affordable housing enterprise zones.

  • Implement the recommendations of the Sunset Advisory Commission staff to maximize the Texas Department of Transportation's use of a state infrastructure bank to take advantage of the flexibility of federal highway funds.

  • Consider authorizing a local-option revenue source which, subject to voter approval, would enable political subdivisions to finance the construction and renovation of sports stadiums.

  • Create and fund a Texas Advisory Commission on State-Local Relations to promote stronger intergovernmental communication, cooperation and coordination among city, county, state, and special district governments-especially in the context of fewer federal resources and more state flexibility.