Recent Texas Attorney General Opinions and Open Records Decisions of Interest to Cities

Note:  Included opinions are from June 11, 2014 through July 10, 2014.

Opinion No. GA-1070 (Property Tax):  Under Section 26.07 of the Tax Code, if a city’s ad valorem rollback rate is zero and it adopts a tax rate above zero, the qualified voters of the city by petition may require that an election be held to determine whether or not to reduce the ad valorem tax rate back to zero. Article VIII, section 1-b(h) of the Texas Constitution requires a city with an ad valorem tax rate of zero, upon receiving a properly filed petition from five percent of authorized voters, to hold an election to determine whether to freeze the total amount of ad valorem taxes imposed on property that is subject to a residence homestead exemption owned by a person that is disabled or is 65 years of age or older.

Opinion No. GA-1066 (Type B Economic Development Corporation): To the extent an expenditure of Type B sales tax proceeds for the services involved in the preparation of a city comprehensive plan by an independent contractor is within the scope of Sections 501.101 or 501.103 of the Local Government Code, it may be an authorized project under the statute. It is, however, for the board of directors of the economic development corporation to determine, in the first instance and subject to judicial review, whether an expenditure is authorized under the statute.

Open Records Decision No. 688 (Photos):  The legislature intended Subsection 261.201(a), Texas Family Code, to govern the confidentiality and release of photographs in child abuse and neglect case file records of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and, furthermore, did not intend sensitive crime scene photographs covered by Subsection 261.201(a) to be subject to the general requirements of Section 552.1085 of the Government Code.