Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions of Interest to Cities

Note:  Included opinions are from January 11, 2016 through February 16, 2016. 

Opinion No. KP-0066 (Tax Exempt Status of Real Property):  Property is exempt under Tax Code Section 11.11 if a public entity holds legal or equitable title to the property and the property is used for public purposes. An owner who has the present right to compel legal title holds equitable title. A court is likely to determine that under Subsection 11.11(e), property held or dedicated for the support, maintenance, or benefit of an institution or institutions of higher education that is leased to students or employees of such institution or institutions is tax exempt. If such property is leased to provide private residential housing to members of the public other than students and employees of the institution or institutions, the property may lose its exemption under Subsection 11.11(e) of the Tax Code, in whole or in part.

Opinion No. KP-0065 (Economic Development Corporation):  Under Subsection 501.103(1) of the Local Government Code, the term “site improvement” should be construed to mean an improvement or permanent enhancement that relates to the development of an area of ground on which a town, building, or monument is constructed. The question of whether any particular expenditure constitutes a project under Section 501.103 is a question in the first instance for the board of the economic development corporation to determine.

Opinion No. KP-0064 (Juvenile Court):  A court would likely conclude that under Subsection 65.251(b) of the Family Code, a truancy court may refer a child to the juvenile probation department for either failure to obey a truancy order or direct contempt; however, such a referral requires two prior instances of contemptuous conduct regardless of form-either failure to obey a truancy order or direct contempt.

A court would likely conclude that a juvenile prosecutor maintains discretion under Subsection 65.252(d) of the Family Code to prosecute a child for delinquent conduct as set forth in Subsection 51.03(a)(2)(C) of the Family Code even on a child’s initial referral to juvenile court.

Opinion No. KP-0061 (Removal of Officer in Type A City):  Subsection 22.077(a) of the Local Government Code authorizes a Type A general-law city to remove an officer for incompetency, corruption, misconduct, or malfeasance at a regular meeting by a majority vote of those present and voting.

Subsection 22.077(b) of the Local Government Code authorizes a Type A general-law city to remove an officer for a lack of confidence if two-thirds of the elected aldermen vote in favor of a resolution declaring the lack of confidence.

For purposes of Local Government Code Section 22.039, a “called meeting” of a Type A general-law city is a meeting called and held at a time or place other than the regular meeting time and place adopted pursuant to Subsection 22.038(a). An emergency meeting will be considered a called meeting for purposes of Section 22.039 if it is held at a time or place other than the regular meeting time and place established by a resolution adopted pursuant to Section 22.038.

Two-thirds of a city’s aldermen constitute a quorum for purposes of convening a called emergency meeting of a Type A general-law city.

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