Sample Essay on Organization of Special Districts in Texas

Organization of Special Districts in Texas

Synopsis

Special purpose Districts in Texas forms the most basic level of local government and they are sub visions of areas of a state, county or municipality. They are divided for several special purposes like judicial, political, electoral or administrative purposes. Their creation is as a result of the residents desire to have their own entities through which they could get their own infrastructures and they could also collect incomes by levying taxes to finance limited services like road constructions, water and sewerage constructions and provide education or health services (Kay, 2014).  The districts have significant powers for acquisition, purchasing, selling, leasing of real or personal properties. They can also sue and be sued, impose and collect taxes, issue bonds, borrow money and enter in to contracts with entities while other districts have powers of eminent domain.

Findings

The special districts mainly fund facilities, infrastructure and services away from those already made available by municipality or individual title-holders of properties. They complement services of present local authority in an area while provision of basic services remains the responsibility of the city (Leigh and Blakely, 2013). A Board of directors, commissioners and supervisors who are appointed by either public officials or private entities governs Special Districts. A chief executive is appointed by the board to assist in managing daily operations, make decisions and implement policies (Odinet, 2013). Texas has several special district created to perform different functions and each one of them has a different board composition, and carry out different activities.

There are several special districts dealing with health and safety issues located in specific geographical areas in Texas. Special districts that provide health care functions are broadly classified in to hospital districts, health services districts and emergency services districts. Health services are provided to locals of a region through hospital districts and Health services districts. Human services are provided though mosquito control districts, emergency services districts, jail districts and crime and control special districts. All these special districts are created through different Health and safety codes and authorized by different sections of the Texas constitution (Kay, 2014). Structure, management, processes and functions of each of special districts are discussed herein.

Discussion

Hospital districts are created to provide medical care and hospital services to needy locals of the district in which the hospital district is being created. They are created by a petition that is signed by not less than 100 voters belonging to the proposed region of the district. The petition is then presented to a county judge who considers its creation after a hearing. Temporal board of directors to serve may be named by the petition or by request of court commissioners pending an election exercise of the directors in the manner dictated by the petition. The districts raise revenue by issuing general obligation bonds, revenue bonds and imposed annual property taxes at not more than seventy-five cents per one hundred dollar valuation of available taxable properties in the district. Districts with seventy five thousand or less of population have the option of levying a sales tax and use tax incase authorization is given during the creation election.

Dissolution of hospital districts is through a petition that requests an election exercise used to determine whether the district should be dissolved and its assets and obligations disposed. In case of majority vote in favor of dissolution, it’s the boards’ responsibility to dissolve it and dispose of its assets in accordance to the statutes. There are sections in the constitution that authorize the legislature to make determinations of health care services to be provided by hospital district. They look at residents’ requirements necessary to qualify for the services and any other guidelines that are relevant in regulating the provision of health care to locals. The requirements specific to special hospital districts, are classified according to the size of the population, predicted provisions for particular regions in relation to district creation, maximum imposed tax rates and bonds issuance (Kay, 2014).

Creation of health service districts is by one or more counties and one or more hospital districts through adoption of concurrent orders to give health care services to locals of the district on at a controlled fee through a contract. Number of board of directors depends on size of the county, they are appointed by a judge belonging to that county forming that particular district. The health service districts incomes is from issuing of revenue bonds and imposed sales taxes in those districts. The collected revenue is used in provision of health services like ambulance and emergency to those who require them most in that county. Part of the revenue may be allocated to a county hospital belonging to the same county or is part of the health services district. Health services district are dissolved after expiration of contract between the counties and hospital districts that created the health services district or when the counties and hospital districts adopt concurrent orders terminating the contract (Kay, 2014).

Mosquito control district provide human services and are created for eradicating mosquitoes within the area of the district. Their creation is through petition requiring at least two hundred voters of the region who are qualified. Revenue for these districts is corrected through a tax levy not exceeding twenty five percent on each one hundred dollar of taxable value of property within the district. Advisory commissions of five members as well as a mosquito control engineer are both appointed through a commission court in each county in which the special district is established. These individuals make recommendations to the commissioners’ court on appropriate procedures and necessary expenditures required for eradication of mosquitoes. Provisions are provided by the statute on merging of districts and provides for dissolution procedures of the district upon petition and election (Kay, 2014).

Until the year 2003 constitutional amendment, emergency services and rural fire prevention districts carried out same functions of providing emergency services to residents of a district.  The approval of the amendment saw the conversion of rural fire prevention district into emergency services district and constitutional authority for the creation of rural fire prevention districts as well as statutory basis for rural fire districts was repealed. This resulted to an increase in authority to tax from three percent to ten percent valuation of taxable property value. Emergency service districts are created to support and offer local emergency services like medical emergency services, emergency ambulance services, rural fire prevention and control services, and any other emergency services authorized by the Texas Legislature (Kay, 2014).

These districts are created though filing petition signed by one hundred qualified voters with the county judge. The petition is granted after a public hearing that determines whether its creation is feasible and promotes public safety welfare health and convenience of persons residing in the district. An election is then held to confirm creation of the district and authorizes tax imposition that does not exceed ten percent of valuation of the property within the district. Emergency service districts collects revenues through imposed sales taxes, ad valorem tax, issuing bonds and notes. Board of directors are appointed by court commissioners to act for two year terms but if population of the district is more than three million five board members are elected. Consent must be sought from governing bodies when municipalities propose creation of fire control, prevention and emergency services districts if the services are not already provided in the municipality. District creation as well as imposition of sales taxes to be used in financing of districts operations must be approved by majority of the qualified voters during an election help for that purpose. Fire marshal’s office is created through emergency service districts to be investigating and determining fire causes as well as inspects properties for fire hazards. Persons who do not cooperate with them during investigations are penalized .Emergency communication districts are also created such as the 9-1-1 services which is the primary emergency number and emergency service fee is collected by a service supplier or provider of local exchange access line and though issuance of bonds (Kay, 2014).

Jail districts are also created that collects its revenue through issuing bonds and levying ad valorem tax upon its approval by voters. They are created by one or more counties through a contract to finance and carry out construction, acquisition or improvement of jail facility to serve the district. A petition of at least ten percent of registered voters in the county is used to create a jail district. The board is appointed by court commissioners to serve for two year terms. The district can acquire land for the site of jail through gift, grant, purchase or condemnation. It can enter in to contracts for construction or improvements of jail facility, which are under the control of the board. The board also conducts a hearing to determine completion of the facility after its final inspection. Then it passes a resolution conveying the facility to the county in which it is located who become the owners and manage all its operations. The district is dissolved eventually after conveying the facility to the receiving county by a resolution adopted by the board or by vote of majorly commissioners of the court or registered voters (Kay, 2014).

Finally, crime control and prevention District is created and it finances its operations through sales taxes. It is created through approval by majority of qualified voters that vote in an election. The district finance costs of certain programs like police and law enforcement related programs for instance crime stoppers or telephone lines, disposal centers for chemical and drugs and others. They come up with community related crime prevention strategies that include, home watching programs, drug awareness programmers, family awareness centers, and court and prosecution services. Seven board members are appointed to serve for two-year terms by the governing body or municipality creating the district. The proposed programs are funded through applications of funds made by an offer belong to the municipality of that particular district (Kay, 2014).

Conclusion

The special purpose district providing health and human services have a defined organization structure, and according to (Special district local laws code, 2014) the board of directors is appointed through a defined process and there are specific functions for each of the special districts that are different from the other. They all provide services to the residents of the specific district they are created in. Needs of residents are determined by a governing body before formation of each of particular special districts. The board of directors is involved in making the major decisions for a specific district after its creation. The revenue collected from different sources funds the operations of a specific district for which the revenue was collected for and each district collects revenue from different sources like sales tax, ad valorem tax, issuing bonds depending on the authorization given to it. All special districts are dissolved through a defined process after they have accomplished the purpose for which they were created.

Recommendations

As indicated in the (Service Plan. Hobby Area Management District 2015), created special districts are tailored to meet only one specific need of the residents of a specific region, these results to creation of many special districts and an improvement can be implemented where several related services can be provided within one special district. Due to possibility of conflicts resulting from competition between the districts and the city or counties due to overlapping jurisdictions and services, proper evaluations should be done to determine the services, which are not being provided by any other body before establishment of a special district. The activities and decisions of the board of directors are also not properly regulated and policies and regulations should be established in each special district to monitor the operations of each and enhance transparency and accountability. The board of directors should also be appointed through s more competitive process such that not only locals are appointed in the board and this will ensure more ideas will be developed for the functions and operations of the districts.

References

Kay, C. (2014). Invisible Government: Special Purpose Districts in Texas.Policy.

Leigh, N. G., & Blakely, E. J. (2013). Planning Local Economic Development: Theory and Practice. SAGE Publications, Incorporated.

Odinet, C. K. (2013). Fairness, Equity, and a Level Playing Field: Development Goals for the Resilient City. Idaho L. Rev.50, 217.

Service Plan. (n.d.). Hobby Area Management District Retrieved March 5, 2015, ESC Polytech Consultants, Inc., from http://hadistrict.org/about/service-plan/

SPECIAL DISTRICT LOCAL LAWS CODE. (2014). In Texas Local Government Records Laws: The Texas Local Government Records Act, Related Statutes, and Rules (2014 ed.). Austin, Texas: Doggett Publishing.