About your County Government

About your County Government

By: Frida Villalobos

How much do you know about Harris County? Oftentimes we only hear about the City of Houston but Harris County impacts residents beyond city limits. To begin to understand county government, it’s important we provide you with an overview of what Commissioners Court does. According to the Texas Constitution established in 1876, it is the governing body of each of the 254 Texas counties. The court consists of  ve members: four county commissioners and one county judge. The major duties of the commissioner’s court involve overseeing the budgetary and policy making functions of county government. 

Each county in Texas is divided into four commissioner’s precincts with one commissioner being directly elected by the voters of each precinct to a four-year term. Commissioners are elected on staggered terms with two precincts voting for the office of commissioner in each general election. Precincts two and four of every county elect commissioner the same year the Texas gubernatorial election takes place while precincts one and three elect their commissioners in presidential election years. To be eligible to run for a county commissioner seat, an In addition, in many counties,commissioners must be a qualified voter, a resident of that precinct and have never been convicted of a felony.

Commissioners Court oversees the following: 

• Adopting and approving the county’s budget 

• Setting tax rates 

• Filling vacancies and appointing officials 

• Settling salaries, expenses, and allowances for appointed officials 

• Issuing bonds 

• Overseeing courthouses, jails, and libraries.

 Each of the four county commissioners represents a certain area of the county, also known as a precinct. Aside from serving as voting members of Commissioners Court, county commissioners are responsible for overseeing the following: 

  • Maintenance of precinct parks, community centers and annexes. 
  • Construction, maintenance and improvement of county roads and bridges, establishing long-range thoroughfare, open space, and land use plans that are not part of the state highway system. 
  • Acquiring property for rights-ofway or other uses is determined to be in the public’s best interest. Providing programs and services to residents who reside in the Precinct. 

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