Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions and Ethics Advisory Opinions of Interest to Cities

Note: Included opinions are from March 11, 2021 through April 13, 2021.

KP-0366 (Public Improvement Districts): Local Government Code chapter 372 governs public improvement districts and provides for special assessments to be levied against property benefiting from improvements made under the chapter. The question regarding the use of public improvement district assessments in particular circumstances requires a construction of numerous contracts and the application of facts to those contracts, which tasks are outside the purview of an attorney general opinion.

Subsection 372.023(h) authorizes the inclusion of issuance costs of general obligation bonds to pay improvement costs in a public improvement district. Yet, pursuant to section 372.024 and its reference to subtitle A, Title 9 of the Government Code, the issuer of such bonds must be an issuer from within the State.

Subsection 372.026(f)’s phrase “indebtedness issued to pay a corporation’s costs of issuance” generally could be construed to include a promissory note that is issued.

KP-0365 (County Assistance Districts): Chapter 387 of the Local Government Code provides for county assistance districts, and subsection 387.003(b) establishes the boundaries for those districts. A court would likely conclude that subsection 387.003(b) required Ector County to include the City of Odessa’s extraterritorial jurisdiction in the Ector County’s county assistance district’s proposed boundaries.

Construing subsection 387.003(b-1) to require notice to a city only when a proposed district includes the incorporated territory of the city, the County’s express exclusion of Odessa’s municipal limits in its ballot language means that no territory of a municipality was included in the proposed district. Accordingly, a court would likely conclude that subsection 387.003(b-1) required no notice.

Neither statute nor equitable principles of law such as the contract with the voters or administrative action by the Texas Comptroller provide a basis to conclude that the District’s boundaries should exclude future land annexations by Odessa

KP-0364 (Golf Carts): Section 521.021 of the Transportation Code prohibits a person, unless expressly exempted, from operating a motor vehicle on a publicly maintained way any part of which is open to the public for vehicular travel unless the person holds a driver’s license. Sections 551.403 and 551.404 of the Transportation Code, which authorize a person to operate a golf cart in certain locations, do not exempt such persons from the driver’s license-holding requirement of section 521.021.

EAO-560 (Political Advertising): The written communications considered in this opinion constitute political advertisements because they identify a public officer as such, include his name in a conspicuous manner, and promote the officer by crediting him with funding a public resource that is paid for by the political subdivision. Rather than being primarily informational, the primary purpose of the communications appears to be to support the incumbent official.

EAO-559 (Political Advertising): The mere fact that a communication includes an express disclaimer of support or opposition is not determinative. However, the specific communications considered in this opinion are not political advertisements for purposes of section 255.003 of the Election Code because they are entirely informational and do not include any advocacy.