Mayors from across the state headed to Austin on Wednesday to meet with Gov. Greg Abbott over concerns about efforts to pass measures that would replace local laws and regulations with statewide ones.
Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb said he wants to find out why the governor and members of the Legislature are focused on matters that are normally the purview of city and local government. The mayors of Galveston, San Marcos, Lubbock, Amarillo, El Paso, Arlington, Frisco, McKinney and Irving also were meeting with Abbott.
"I'm going to try to get my head around why all of a sudden there seems to be this aggressive assault on cities ... trying to dictate and tell cities what to do out of Austin," McComb said.Among McComb's concerns is a proposal to cap the rate of increase for property taxes collected by local governments. He said a stricter cap would make it difficult for cities like his to craft budgets or deal with unforeseen expenses.
Other proposed state laws affecting cities would add staff costs and result in "unfunded mandates," McComb said.
"At least at the local level in Corpus Christi, we're all pretty well committed to trying to keep our expenses ... and our costs ... and our taxes down as low as possible," he said.
McComb said he agrees with some of Abbott's rhetoric about reducing local-government oversight, but that cities and their citizens make the best decisions for their communities.
"There's a lot of difference between south Texas and east Texas and west Texas and north Texas," he said, "and when you get into the individual local ordinances and this sort of thing, I think that is more reflective of each community and their identity."
McComb was optimistic that Abbott would respond to the mayors' concerns.
"He's a good man. I like him. I voted for him. I think he'll listen," he said.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.