Denton County Commissioners Court oversees a number of duties ranging from financial management to maintaining county roads and bridges to overseeing the courthouse and other facilities.
Each of four commissioners represents one of four precincts in each county in the state of Texas. As a member of the court, commissioners exercise broad policy-making authority to conduct the general business of the county.
Several key components of a commissioner’s job is to
1. Adopt the county’s budget and set the tax rate
2. Approve all budgeted purchases
3. Set salaries and benefits and approve payroll
4. Provide and maintain all county facilities
5. Maintain county roads and bridges
If you look at 163-page guide from the Texas Association of Counties on all that state law allows for county commissioners to do to ensure the welfare of county residents, you would find hundreds of listings.
The Commissioners Court handles everything from setting a burn ban when weather conditions warrant to providing for the burial of paupers.
But years ago, before the Texas Revolution of 1836, county government did not exist in the territory now known as Texas.
The Republic of Texas created counties with the Constitution of 1836. The Republic initially created 23 counties. As Texas settled, the number of counties continued to grow until the current number of 254.
Initially, the county judge and justices of the peace governed counties. Then Constitutions written in 1845, 1861 and 1866 created a court comprised of the county judge and four commissioner as noted by the Texas State Historical Association.
Those early documents did not address county government structures. It would be left to the state legislature to determine specifics. The Constitution of 1876 set up the Commissioners Court as we know it today. While it is the administrative body of the county, there are numerous independently elected county officers. The delegation of specific duties to the elected offices prevented the centralization of power within any body or group.
Counties are considered a subdivision of the state. While they have been delegated certain powers by the state, they remain under state control. The state legislature can pass down mandates, some which may be funded and others, not.
In a high growth region such as Denton County – among the top 10 fastest growing in the U.S. – challenges arise when population growth exerts pressure on services provided at the county level. This can range from the amount of traffic on county-maintained roads requiring additional upkeep to ensuring there is enough jail space to handle an increasing number of prisoners.
Each Commissioner is responsible for determining the need in their precincts as well as the overall county and work together to address these challenges.
This is not an easy task when considering the amount of growth, rising costs and the determination to provide services in a manner that is cost effective.
However, the Denton County Commissioners Court is committed to providing good services to residents while ensuring the county is good stewards of their tax dollars.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Ron Marchant, who has served as commissioner since 2007, is a lifelong resident of Carrollton where he served on the city council, worked as Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace and has been actively involved in a number of other civic organizations. He can be reached at 972-434-7140 or at Ronald.Marchant@dentoncounty.com.