TCAA, in conjunction with the Texas Municipal League, files amicus briefs and comments in support of cities on many issues. To keep up to date on the status of these issues, go to http://www.tml.org/p/AMICUSBRIEFUPDATE051414.pdf.
Municipal Drainage Fees: RQ-1192-GA; Regarding the relationship between school districts and municipal drainage fees adopted under Chapter 552 of the Local Government Code. This attorney general opinion request asks: (1) whether or not the Municipal Drainage Utility System Act is presumed to be a tax, which school districts are exempt from paying; and (2) whether or not Chapter 552, Subchapter C, exempts school districts from paying the municipal drainage fee or if it is a decision reserved for the discretion of the city. The Texas Municipal League and Texas City Attorneys Association argued that: (1) the drainage fee is not intended to raise general revenue (i.e., is not a tax) but is a special assessment used to provide drainage service that benefits properties in cities that choose to adopt the fee; and (2) a school district (other than a district in the City of El Paso) is not exempt from paying a municipal drainage fee. The comments were filed on April 22, 2014.
Billboards: State of Texas v. Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., No. 13-0053 in the Supreme Court of Texas. TML and TCAA joined this brief written by former Justice Scott Brister for the City of Houston, Harris County, Scenic Texas, and others. This case involves whether a billboard is personal or real property and how to value a billboard properly. The court of appeals in this case held that the billboards affected by the Texas Department of Transportation’s road project were real property and allowed testimony about the billboards’ business income, increasing the valuation of the billboards to over $250,000. This brief argues that billboards are personal property and that they should not be valued based on advertising income, pointing to a 2009 case from the Supreme Court of Texas, State v. Cent. Expwy. Sign Assocs., 302 S.W.3d 866, 874 (Tex. 2009). The case is before the Supreme Court of Texas on briefs on the merits, but the petition has not been granted. The amicus brief was filed on April 21, 2014.