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    Legislative Services

    County Issues Newsletter | July 2023

    News Article | July 28, 2023

    AG Opinions and Requests

    County News | Legislative News
    Legislative Services

    Attorney General Opinions

    JS-0004: Discusses whether the Public Utility Commission (PUC) has authority under Water Code section 12.013 to hear an appeal by a municipal utility regarding rates set by a water control and improvement district. The opinion also considers whether the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has exclusive authority over such an appeal under Water Code subsection 51.305(d) (RQ-0478-KP). The opinion concludes that Water Code subsection 12.013(a) allows the PUC to establish reasonable rates for providing raw or treated water for any purpose, under Water Code chapter 11 or 12. Water Code section 51.305 pertains to specific expenses a water control and improvement district may allocate to certain users. The two provisions do not conflict. According to subsection 51.305(d), if an authorized party disputes a water control and improvement district's allocation assessments and other payments necessary to cover the maintenance and operating expenses of its water delivery system, the remedy is to file a petition with the TCEQ. Otherwise, the matter is under the jurisdiction of the PUC. However, the opinion does not resolve the underlying dispute's factual questions and thus cannot specify which entity has exclusive jurisdiction over a particular dispute.

    JS-0005: Considers questions related to the use of a sheriff's commissary funds for a vehicle to transport inmates to medical appointments (RQ-0494-KP). The opinion suggests that a court would likely consider obtaining a vehicle to transport inmates to medical and mental health appointments a permissible use of commissary funds under Local Government Code subsection 351.0415(c)(5). The opinion highlights the sheriff's exclusive control over these funds under subsection 351.0415(b)(I), allowing them to lease a vehicle without seeking approval of the commissioners court. Whether a commissioners court may use money from the general fund to pay insurance and maintenance costs on a vehicle acquired with commissary funds depends on whether the expenditure is provided in the budget. Local Government Code subsection 263.152(a)(1) applies to surplus property owned by a county. The classification of a vehicle as county-owned or surplus property is a factual matter that remains unresolved in the opinion process.

    JS-0006: Considers whether a member of the Board of Trustees of the La Joya Independent School District may simultaneously serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 6 (RQ-0495-KP). The opinion concludes that the common law doctrine of conflicting-loyalties incompatibility prohibits one person from simultaneously holding two offices that would prevent the person from exercising independent and disinterested judgment. Because the La Joya ISD and the Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 6 have taxation authority in overlapping territory, one individual may not simultaneously serve as a school board trustee and irrigation district board member. A court would likely conclude that in qualifying for the second incompatible office of trustee for the school district, the individual does not holdover under article XVI subsection 17(a) of the Texas Constitution.

    JS-0007: Considers whether a volunteer fire department is a political subdivision for purposes of a land exchange with a county under Local Government Code subsection 263.006(e) (RQ-0497-KP). The opinion provides that Local Government Code section 263.006 allows a county commissioners court to exchange an interest in real property for an interest in another if it meets certain notice and appraisal requirements. Subsection 263.006(e) exempts from those requirements a real property exchange with specified types of entities, including a political subdivision of this state. A court would likely conclude that a volunteer fire department organized as a nonprofit entity is not a political subdivision within the scope of subsection 263.006(e).

    AC-0001: Considers whether, under article XVI section 40 of the Texas Constitution, a state employee receiving all or part of their compensation from state funds may also receive compensation as an elected member of the Hutto City Council (RQ-0498-KP). The opinion concludes that article XVI subsection 40(b) of the Texas Constitution prohibits a state employee who receives all or part of their compensation from state funds from receiving a salary for serving as an elected member of the Hutto City Council. As the Hutto City Council has construed the per-meeting payment provided by subsection 3.04(b) of the Hutto City Charter to constitute "salary" under article XVI subsection 40(b), a state employee serving as a council member must decline the charter's salary payment to comply with article XVI subsection 40(b).

    Requests for Attorney General Opinion

    RQ-0001-AC: Lampasas County Attorney. Considers authority under Government Code chapter 74 of the Judge of a multi-county district to appoint different court coordinators for each county of the district.