AG Opinions and Requests

March 01, 2019

Legislative News

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TAC has highlighted recent Attorney General Opinions and Requests for Opinions of interest to counties.

Attorney General Opinions

KP-0238 Application of Government Code section 573.062, the nepotism continuous-employment exception, to a tax assessor-collector’s sister-in-law (RQ-0243-KP) Summary: Section 573.041 of the Government Code prohibits a public official from employing a person who is related to the public official by the specified degree of consanguinity or affinity. Section 573.062 excepts persons employed in a position for a specified continuous period of time prior to a relative's election or appointment to public office.

To the extent the tax office employs the sister-in-law in her current position for one year prior to the appointment of her relative as county tax assessor-collector, the sister-in-law's service satisfies the requirements under section 573.062 and her continued employment does not violate chapter 573 of the Government Code.

KP-0239 Authority of a county to refund penalties and interest paid by taxpayers in certain circumstances (RQ-0244-KP) Summary: Subsections 33.01 l(a)(l), (a)(3), and (d) of the Tax Code permit a taxing unit under some circumstances to waive penalties and interest charged on delinquent taxes based on an act or omission of the taxing unit, or a formerly-correct address for payment, if certain requirements are met and the taxing unit receives a timely submitted written request for the waiver.

To the extent Hood County failed to mail a tax bill despite the county's possession of the taxpayer's mailing address, a court could conclude that the taxes are not yet delinquent, in which case the statutory deadline in subsection 33.01l(d) for submitting the waiver request has not passed. To the extent Hood County mailed the tax bills in question such that a waiver of penalties and interest under section 33.011 is foreclosed, article III, subsection 52(a) of the Texas Constitution likely precludes the county from reimbursing taxpayers from its general fund for the amount of the penalties and interest.

KP-0240 Whether a commissioners court has a duty to maintain public roads (RQ-0245-KP) Summary: A court would likely conclude that a county has a duty to maintain a road, remove obstacles, and regulate gates only if the road has been laid out as a county road by law and has not been discontinued.

A court would also likely conclude that when a county is not a party to litigation between private landowners, fact findings recited in the judgment rendered in that litigation may affect private rights but do not establish a county duty to maintain a road or remove a gate from the litigated road.

Requests for Attorney General Opinions

RQ-0270-KP: Hon. Vince Ryan, Harris County Attorney, Whether a county commissioners court may appoint a sitting regent of a public university system to a county hospital district's board of trustees.

RQ-0271-KP: Mr. Matthew S. Weingardt, CPA, Val Verde County Auditor, Use of pretrial intervention program funds collected under Code of Criminal Procedure article 102.0121 to supplement the salary of an attorney or staff member who assists in the administration of the program.

RQ-0272-KP: The Honorable Sharen Wilson, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney, Purchasing authority of a criminal district attorney's office as a specialized local entity under Local Government Code section 140.003.