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Relating to the fee imposed on certain property owners by a county for the establishment of street lights along a county road.
No fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 1950 would amend Section 280.003 (Street Lights in Subdivision Located in Certain Counties) of the Transportation Code. This legislation would require a county tax assessor-collector to include a certain fee in a tax bill for property owners in unincorporated areas near the border.
Currently, a county charges a fee for the installation and maintenance of a street light in those areas. This legislation would make that fee a tax on a landowner whose property benefits from having the street light installed and maintained.
Under this bill, the Commissioners Court could obtain a lien against a person’s property in order to receive payment for the new tax fee.
The House committee made changes to this legislation. Specifically, the committee removed provisions that would permit the commissioners court to collect a installation and maintenance fee by obtaining a lien against a person's property who benefits from the installation of a street light in an unincorporated area. With these changes, we are still in support of this legislation. The House chamber sponsor is Martinez.
First chamber recommendation:
Current law allows counties within 150 miles of an international boarder to install street lights on county roads in unincorporated areas of the county. In practical terms, this statute is intended to mean areas of counties near the border where colonias exist. The problem, as described by the bill author's office, is that although counties sometimes install street lighting at the request of members of the community there is no proscribed method in statute to collect the fee for installing the lighting.
This legislation would provide for the fee, already authorized in statute, to be collected by adding the fee to the landowner's tax bill. The legislation would provide for a tax lien to be assessed in the event that the landowner fails or refuses to pay the fee.
The counties clearly need to have a method for recouping the cost of installing the street lights that were requested by the area residents. The lien proposed under this statute would not be able to be used to foreclose on the property but would have priority over a mortgage in the case of a foreclosure for other reasons.
This legislation is carefully crafted to ensure the county can be made whole for its costs associated with installing the street lights while balancing the property rights of land owners by ensuring that the method for collecting the fee could not lead to land owners losing their property through foreclosure.
For these reasons we support SB 1950 on the basis of limited government, personal responsibility, and property rights.