TASK FORCE ON UNFUNDED MANDATES MAKES RECOMMENDATIONS

In February, Governor Perry established the Task Force on Unfunded Mandates to identify unfunded mandates that are passed down to local governments and to make recommendations on how to limit those mandates.  The nine-member task force consisted of two sitting mayors, one former mayor, a sitting city councilmember, and other county and school district officials. 

Last week, the task force submitted its recommendations to the governor.  The city-related recommendations are as follows:

Public Safety

Provide flexibility for purchase of firefighting equipment
The Texas Administrative Code requires political subdivisions to purchase new firefighting equipment at certain time intervals, regardless of whether the old equipment is still in good working order. Providing equipment purchase flexibility would give local governments the ability to determine whether new equipment is necessary based on their own needs.

Align firefighting statutes and rules to ensure clear, consistent standards
Firefighting equipment is regulated by multiple statutes and standards. Standards should be aligned and jurisdictions given adequate time to implement the new regulations.

Provide flexibility to ensure basic water supply in emergencies
Backup generators are required at all water plants to ensure water availability in the aftermath of major weather events, but this standard is inflexible and could cost up to $92.5 million more than necessary. Local governments should have the flexibility to have either generator coverage or dual power feeds to ensure basic water supply in emergencies.

Transportation

Allow local governments to retain proceeds from red light cameras
The state mandates that portions of revenue from red light camera traffic enforcement fines must be transferred to the state. Local governments should be allowed to keep the revenue from administrative penalties they assess.

Public Health

Allow local governments to regulate public swimming pools
Local governments that own swimming pools are required to abide by commercial swimming pool standards. They should be allowed to regulate the swimming pools they own as their citizens see fit.

Retirement Systems

Allow greater flexibility on interest rates and benefit structures
Local governments should be able to assume their own interest rate calculations and maintain contribution structures other than those in statute. The Texas County and District Retirement System and Texas Municipal Retirement System statutes should be modified to allow greater flexibility for jurisdictions to assume their own interest rates and benefit structures.

Human Resources

Eliminate mandates for local government health insurance plans
Local governments are required to provide health insurance that must include specified coverage. Eliminating some of these mandates would save money and provide greater flexibility in determining employee health care coverage.

Public Information

Allow full cost recovery for public information requests
Local governments are limited in the amounts that may be recovered for responding to public information requests. These amounts are often insufficient to cover the full cost of responding to requests.

Change records management rules to guidelines
Local governments are required to comply with State Library and Archives Commission records management rules. Instead, these records management rules should be used solely as guidelines.

Judiciary

Allow courts to recoup administrative costs of collecting certain state fees
Local courts must collect court fees and Department of Public Safety fines on behalf of the state. The courts should be allowed to recoup the administrative cost of this service.

Licensing

Allow local licensing for certain items
Local governments should be able to inspect, maintain, and license the boilers, refrigeration units, elevators, and escalators they own in lieu of state licensing.

Exempt licensure and inspection of government-owned vehicles
Local governments should be exempted from state licensure and inspection for government- owned vehicles.

To read the task force’s recommendations in their entirety, go to
http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/5-6_Unfunded_Mandates_Narrative.pdf.


TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose.
No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the
Texas Municipal League.

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