August 01, 2019
By Susan M. Redford, TAC Executive Director
July was a busy month for the Texas Association of Counties. Early in the month I traveled with members of the TAC Board and other county officials to the National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference. If you have not attended a NACo Conference, I strongly encourage you to consider making the trip next year. The sessions were relevant and thought provoking. We discussed issues ranging from the importance of census outreach to hard-to-count populations, fixing the loss of federal benefits for those who are in jail, county branding, disaster management and better broadband mapping for counties.
Members of the NACo staff will join us at the TAC Legislative Conference, Sept. 4-6, for a session titled “Federal Update: The Outlook for Counties.” This is one of many breakout sessions you won’t want to miss that are scheduled on the second day of the conference. If you have not yet registered, I encourage you to do so today.
While you are working diligently on your county budgets, we are working to decipher the hundreds of bills passed this legislative session affecting Texas counties. Of these, Senate Bill 2 is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. How do counties continue to provide quality services and remain under the 3.5% cap? Our Legislative Services Department has been working overtime to prepare information and resources for county officials to aid in planning for future budget years. This will also be the topic of discussion during the closing session of the TAC Legislative Conference.
Speaking of our Legislative Services Department, historically it has been its own department at TAC. Last year, the Legal and Legislative Services Departments were merged into one under the direction of TAC General Counsel Garry Merritt. This move was made in anticipation of a contentious legislative session. The prediction of a contentious session proved to be true, but we also discovered that both departments need full-time directors. They have been returned to two separate departments.
Michael Pichinson, former Associate General Counsel for TAC, has graciously agreed to take the Director position overseeing the Legislative Services Department. Garry Merritt will continue in his role as General Counsel and oversee the Legal Services Department. We owe Garry a great deal of praise for the efforts of the department during the legislative session and extend a warm welcome to Michael as the newest member of our executive team.
I hope you make time to read the July-August issue of County magazine. This issue has a great photo spread that captures our 50th anniversary celebration, held May 28, and features an array of photos from the history of your Association.
As a final reminder, please take advantage of the many regional training opportunities we offer this fall. The Regional Pool Workshops are scheduled at seven locations around the state. Human Resources Tools for Managers and Supervisors is special training we are offering in partnership with the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool. Four sessions have been scheduled for late summer and early fall. For those of you who can’t travel, all TAC members can register for the upcoming Risk Management Services webinar on Aug. 14, Managing Diversity: Employees from Multiple Cultures and Generations.
During this time of the year, we know you have a lot on your minds. Budgets are tight and the future is a bit uncertain. Rest assured that your Association is working diligently to continue to improve and meet the growing needs of counties.
We appreciate each of you and the work you do for your county. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call.