Maintenance Check: Keeping Your City on Schedule for Required Actions
Most people probably know that cars have a maintenance schedule, which includes things such as oil changes and tire rotations, but did you know that cities have a maintenance schedule, too? State law requires cities to review, renew, renegotiate, or otherwise revisit certain things every so often, usually for the sake of government openness or to ensure that cities are responsible stewards of public funds.
This article identifies some of those regular maintenance items and the intervals of their required upkeep. However, this is not a comprehensive list, and some of the items discussed below may not apply to every city—or as the old saying goes, and to circle back to the car analogy, “your mileage may vary.”
Before getting into the scheduled maintenance items, it should be noted that there are also certain unscheduled maintenance items which require some action to be taken either immediately or within a certain period of time after a triggering event occurs. For example, if a city annexes territory or expands its extraterritorial jurisdiction, it must immediately correct its map to indicate the change. Because there is a multitude of such unscheduled maintenance items, and because some of the triggering events may occur only seldomly, such items are beyond the scope of this article.
A few things must be done so often that they could hardly be overlooked, such as monthly crime reporting to the Texas Department of Public Safety, so there is little value to itemizing them here. Therefore, the shortest interval worth considering is that maintenance which must be performed annually. A few of the matters which must be addressed annually are:
- Election of Officers (Loc. Gov’t Code 22.003)
- Budget Adoption (Loc. Gov’t Code 102.002)
- Tax Rate Adoption (Tax Code 26.05)
- Audit & Financial Statement Preparation (Loc. Gov’t Code 103.001)
- Depository Account Report (Loc. Gov’t Code 105.092)
- Hotel Occupancy Tax Report (Tax Code 351.009)
- Emergency Management Plan Information Exchange (Gov’t Code § 418.106(d))
- Eminent Domain Reporting (Gov’t Code § 2206.154)
- Investment Policy and Strategies Review (Gov’t Code § 2256.005(e))
- Economic Development Corporation Operation Training (Loc. Gov’t Code § 502.101)
- Economic Development Corporation Reporting (Loc. Gov’t Code § 502.151)
- Designating an Official Newspaper (Loc. Gov’t Code 52.004)
- Demonstration of Weapons Proficiency by Peace Officers (Occ. Code § 1701.355)
The following matters must be addressed every two years:
- Adoption of Tax Abatement Guidelines & Criteria (Tax Code § 312.002(c))
- Investment Training (Gov’t Code 2256.008)
Perhaps most likely to be overlooked due to their infrequency are matters which must be addressed every five years. Such matters include:
- Drought Contingency Plan Review and Update (30 Tex. Admin. Code § 288(c))
- Water Conservation Plan Review and Update (30 Tex. Admin. Code 288.30)
- Update of Land Use Assumptions and Capital Improvement Plan (Loc. Gov’t Code § 395.052)
- Depository Contract Renewal (Loc. Gov’t Code § 105.017)
Finally, some laws allow cities to set their own maintenance schedule for certain matters. For example, section 203.041 of the Local Government Code requires cities to establish a records control schedule, and requires that the ordinance or order establishing the schedule provide for its own review and approval.
Unlike cars, cities do not have handy little lights that light up on the dashboard to remind them when something needs to be addressed. Frankly, it could be a full-time job to keep track of what needs to be kept up and then to do the keeping up of it, but I don’t know of any city that has a scheduled maintenance coordinator on staff. Perhaps this article will help them to keep things on track without one.
Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. Information about our municipal law practice can be found here.
Byron L. Brown is an attorney with the Randle Law Office in Houston, Texas, where his practice areas include municipal economic development, municipal franchises and commercial lease litigation. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a B.A. in Criminal Justice, and earned his J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center.