Commissioners Court

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Description of Duties

County Judge

The Texas Constitution vests broad judicial and administrative powers in the position of county judge, who presides over a five-member commissioners court, which has budgetary and administrative authority over county government operations.

The county judge handles such widely varying matters as hearings for beer and wine license applications, hearing on admittance to state hospitals for the mentally ill and mentally retarded, juvenile work permits and temporary guardianships for special purposes. The judge is also responsible for calling elections, posting election notices and for receiving and canvassing the election returns. The county judge may perform marriages.

A county judge in Texas may have judicial responsibility for certain criminal, civil and probate matters - responsibility for these functions vary from county to county. In those counties in which the judge has judicial responsibilities, the judge has appellate jurisdiction over matters arising from the justice courts. The county judge is also head of civil defense and disaster relief, county welfare and in counties under 225,000 population, the judge prepares the county budget along with the county auditor or county clerk.

 

County Commissioner

The job of the county commissioner calls for hands-on service delivery, as well as policy-making decisions about a variety of important matters

Four commissioners, each elected from a quarter of the county's population, serve along with the county judge on the commissioners court. Many people know that the commissioners court is responsible for building and maintaining the roads and bridges of the county. In your county, your commissioner may have individual responsibility for the roads in his precinct or  county road maintenance may be centralized under a unit road system. 

The commissioners court also has the responsibility to adopt the budget and tax rate that is sufficient to fund the personnel, equipment and infrastructure necessary to deliver the services provided by the county. Typically, the commissioners court is responsible for conducting business on behalf of the county, and only the commissioners court can enter into contracts on behalf of the county.

The commissioners court does much more than maintain roads and adopt a budget and a tax rate. County government’s operations are often tailored to meet the needs and resources of the community, so the programs overseen by the commissioners court may vary from county to county. In a typical county, the commissioners court also establish precinct boundaries for commissioners and justices of the peace, determine the number and type of county employees and their compensation, acquire property for rights of way or other public uses, adopt and enforce subdivision regulations, provides rural ambulance services and subsidizes rural fire protection, and supervises and controls the county courthouse and other county buildings and facilities

As with all elected county officials, the commissioner who serves as an ex officio road commissioner has ultimate authority over the operations of the office, including the authority to hire and fire personnel and direct their daily activities. The county commissioner also has authority to determine how to use all other resources allocated to the office during the budget process.

The above information is from the Texas Association of Counties, County Official Information Webpage.