Texas Association of Counties

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Template:Tnr)The Texas Association of Counties is a government sector lobbying association in Texas. It is a 501(c)(4) organization[1] and the Texas chapter of the National Association of Counties.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Texas government sector lobbying

The association has registered lobbyists. Local governments like Archer County pay membership dues to belong to the association.

Advocacy

The Texas Association of Counties sided with Galveston when the transportation department sued the city for $180,000.[2] The transportation department maintained the city was responsible for damage a city-installed water line did to a state highway and an adjacent bridge when the line ruptured in 2001. An appeals court ruling favored the Texas Department of Transportation in a lawsuit against Galveston.[2]

Galveston believed the case questions whether the authority of local governments comes from the state or the people.[2]

The Texas Municipal League volunteered to handle the case for Galveston, and the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of Counties both filed briefs on the city's behalf.[2]

Lobbyists

The Texas Association of Counties had 18 registered lobbyists in 2009.[3][4]

Lobbyist Compensation
Boethel, Carey Less Than $10,000.00
Brown, Timothy W. Less Than $10,000.00
Casteel, Carter $50,000 - $99,999.99
Emerson, Paul K. Less Than $10,000.00
Erskine, Candis B. $0.00
Erskine, John M. Jr. $25,000 - $49.999.99
Flores-Ortiz, Aurora Less Than $10,000.00
Forbes, Nanette Less Than $10,000.00
Ford, Victoria C. $10,000 - $24,999.99
Garcia, Laura Less Than $10,000.00
Hill, Fred $150,000 - $199,999.99
Leo, Myra Less Than $10,000.00
McGinnis, Larry D. $25,000 - $49.999.99
Nicholes, Laura Less Than $10,000.00
Norris, Karen A. Less Than $10,000.00
Roberts, Cary L. $50,000 - $99,999.99
Sugg, Paul J. Less Than $10,000.00
Thompson, John Less Than $10,000.00

Income and expenses

Texas Association of Counties
Year Total Expenses Total Income Membership dues
(included in Total Income)
2006[1] $17,070,832 $17,735,313 $279,535
2005[5] $14,726,849 $15,878,710 $287,970

Note: Tax years begin January 1 and end December 30 the following year.

According to the 2007 990 form, the Texas Association of County Officials does business as the Texas Association of counties. For that form, the numbers are:

Texas Association of County Officials
dba Texas Association of Counties
Year Total Expenses Total Income Membership dues
(included in Total Income)
2007[6] $18,377,358 $19,124,585 $0


2005 lawsuit

See also: Texas lawsuit on government sector lobbying

Williamson County taxpayers Peggy Venable, Janice Brauner, and Judy Morris filed a lawsuit against the Texas Association of Counties in October 2005. The petitioners cited Texas Local Government Code statute 89.002 which prohibits counties from paying dues to an organization that attempts to influence state government. The 277th Judicial District Court in Williamson ruled in 2007 that TAC had been operating outside the law.[7]

The response from the association was originally optimistic. "The TAC does not violate the law," said Elna Christopher, a spokesman for TAC, calling the allegations "ridiculous."[8]

The decision came down against the Texas Association of Counties in particular, but Venable has stated that she hopes the ruling is the start of a trend towards further skepticism regarding government sector lobbying.[9]

Issues

The TAC is opposed to lowering property appraisal and revenue caps.[10] [11] It cites a state comptroller study that the top 10 percent of Texas households, with incomes more than $135,599, were predicted to pay 23.4 percent of the school property taxes, yet enjoyed 27.2 percent of the benefit of the current 10 percent cap. Lowering the cap would further skew the benefit toward the wealthy, according to the league. [12]

Services

Liability insurance

The association offers automobile and liability insurance through the Texas Association of Counties County Government Risk Management Pool.[13]

Lawsuits

After a knife fight and some rapes in the Matagorda County jail in 1993, injured inmates sued the jail. Their case settled in 1995.[14]

Matagorda County indicated to TAC that the settlement was reasonable, asserted that TAC had coverage and proclaimed that the county would not contribute to settlement.[14] Because the Texas Association of Counties provides liability insurance for county jails, the county did not want to pay for any of the expenses of the settlement. In Texas Association of Counties: County Government Risk Management Pool v. Matagorda County, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on the side of Matagorda County, stating the county did not need to reimburse TAC.[15]

In 1995, Sheriff Robert Wurm in Lavaca County was accused of firing an employee after she allegedly refused his romantic advances.[16] The Texas Association of Counties settled with the woman out of court, claiming it was the least expensive means of responding to the case.[16] Wurm, however, was upset that he did not get a chance to defend himself in court.[16] Therefore, while the costs of the lawsuit were avoided because of membership in the Association's risk pool, the county and sheriff forfeited control of the case.[16]

Wellness

The association has a wellness program that promotes healthy lifestyles, with the expectation that this will lead to less sickeness and lower insurance premiums.[17]

Additional reading

External links

References