County Government's Vital Role During Pandemic

May 08, 2020
By Susan M. Redford, TAC Executive Director
TAC News

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As we wind up County Government month, Texas counties have proven why local government is so critical. The response of Texas counties to the COVID-19 pandemic is proof that counties do in fact matter. During this unprecedented time, county officials have been challenged to respond to and meet the needs of their local communities. Every county is different, and while many of the overarching issues are the same, the decisions our officials have made were truly with the best interests of their communities in mind.

Much like our counties, the Texas Association of Counties team has worked to adapt to the current environment. We have proven that we can continue to meet the needs of our members even during a state and national disaster. We quickly identified a need for county commissioners' courts to be able to meet virtually to keep their residents informed. In response, we continue to offer Google Meet to our members free of charge. You can find additional information on how to obtain a license for your county here.

With the cancellation of all training and conferences for the foreseeable future, TAC staff have turned to webinars to provide timely and valuable information for our members. Our Judicial Education team, in association with the V.G. Young Institute for County Government, held four webinars discussing the implementation and effects of Senate Bill 2 for county budgeting. The TAC Risk Management Services team has held webinars updating county officials on the human resources implications of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, act as well as best practices and considerations for counties during the era of COVID-19.

Our Legislative Department has hosted informational and briefing calls for county officials with other agencies. Most recently a call was held with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hager on the state budget and the effects of the economic downturn. TAC has coordinated calls with the National Association of Counties to discuss federal legislative issues; with the Texas Department of Transportation to discuss Transportation Infrastructure Fund (TIF) grants; with the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the Texas Department of State Health Services. We appreciate all who have participated in these landmark briefings.

To continue providing you with as much information as possible, the TAC Communications team provides daily updates to the COVID-19 Information and Resources page on our website. We are also providing daily updates on our COVID-19 newsfeed. You can find the daily updates here.

We made the decision to move to an online-only format for County magazine for the March/April issue. During this time it seemed to be a socially responsible decision to limit the paper we are sending into county offices. With so many county offices being closed or on limited schedules, County magazine was distributed in a digital format to all members and partners. TAC staff has contemplated moving the magazine to a digital format for some time. I would welcome your thoughts about whether an online publication is something you would like to see continue and if you find value in us continuing to provide a paper copy of the magazine to members as well.

The TAC Risk Management Pool and the TAC Health and Employee Benefits Pool recognize the challenges counties have faced in acquiring personal protective equipment for first responders and other essential staff. We were fortunate to be able to be able to partner with Tito's Handmade Vodka and others to provide masks and hand sanitizer to Pool members. I hope your county has received your shipment and found the supplies useful.

During this time TAC continues to be committed to meeting the needs of Texas counties and county officials. Your health and safety and that of our employees remain our top priorities. If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are all in this together. Texas counties do matter.  We are #254Strong.