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Window on State Government

Local Government Empowerment Task Force

El Paso, May 16, 2000

Comptroller's Office Hears Local Government Concerns in El Paso


When county and city governments combine their efforts, they can build community networks and provide better service to their constituents, according to testimony heard at the May 16 e-Texas Local Government Empowerment Task Force public hearing in El Paso. More -->

The Honorable Kevin Eltife,
Task Force Commissioner

The operations of Texas' local governments are guided by the Texas Constitution and other state laws. Counties and "general law" cities with fewer than 5,000 residents are limited to powers and duties specifically granted by the constitution and state law; "home rule" cities are governed by city charters and have much greater flexibility in defining their own powers.

Local governments provide vital community infrastructure services such as road construction and maintenance, law enforcement, and various courts. They also provide direct services to their citizens such as utilities, education, health and human services, environmental protection, and recreational facilities. Finally, local governments must support their activities with internal functions such as financial management, budgeting, human resources, purchasing, and facilities management.

Texans overwhelmingly indicate that they favor "local control"; yet all too often, cities and counties are forced to assume responsibility for binding state and federal policy decisions, as well as for locally implemented programs administered by a state agency, such as the septic tank regulations overseen by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. Granting local governments more control over their own actions with minimum interference from the state is a laudable goal that will require a careful examination of intergovernmental relationships, in both theory and in practice.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas

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