Austin, TX – On this fall's constitutional election ballot is a proposal that supporters claim would make it easier and cheaper for local governments to enter into interlocal agreements. KUT's Andy Uhler reports on what Proposition Five would mean for cooperation between cities, counties and other taxing districts.
As it stands now, a city or county cannot enter into a long-term contract with another city or county without levying a tax to make up for the debt that would come from that agreement. Proposition 5 would allow for cities and counties to waive that tax. Sherri Greenberg is the interim director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. She says the law currently on the books boils down to Texas being a debt-averse state, and that Prop 5 would clarify a technicality.
Greenberg: "This is an amendment that is kind of fixing something that, if you look at the letter of the law people are applying in a way that nobody had ever envisioned. This is cities and counties being able to work together. You want cities and counties to consolidate functions and be more efficient".
Cities and counties that currently have interlocal agreements need to renew those contracts annually. The passage of Prop 5 would allow for multi-year agreements. Elna Christopher is with the Texas Association of Counties. She says especially in counties where a number of small towns can share services, like animal shelters, law enforcement facilities and fire protection, this proposition makes a lot of sense.
Christopher: "By operating them together, it can save the tax payers quite a bit of money rather than having dual services"
Proposition five was authored by Senator Royce West of Dallas and had no opposition passing the House and the Senate in this year's legislative session. Early voting continues through next Friday.
You can find information on all 10 of the Constitutional amendments on the ballot at KERA.org/VotersVoice