New Laws Texas Cities Must Keep in Mind When Making New Year’s Resolutions
The 88th Texas Legislature Session ushered in hundreds of new laws that directly affect the way Texas municipalities conduct business. Through the latter half of 2023, cities across the state have already been making necessary adjustments to the manner in which they regulate agricultural and farming operations (H.B. 1750, H.J.R. 126), interact with their extraterritorial jurisdictions (ETJs) (S.B. 2038), and, in general, exercise their constitutional authority (H.B. 2127). However, as the holiday season comes to an end and our dedicated public servants plan for the new year, cities must also be cognizant of the laws that just went into effect at the start of the year. From transparency in tax procedures and development agreements to platting requirements and permitting fees, here is a brief look at just a few of the significant laws effective January 1, 2024.
Notification that Delinquent Tax is Deferred or Abated (S.B. 539):
Under S.B. 539, if a property tax has been deferred or abated pursuant to Section 33.06 or Section 33.065 of the Tax Code, the tax collector for the city is now required to indicate that such tax has been deferred or abated on each delinquent tax roll for the city.
Election of Electronic Communications with City (H.B. 1228):
This law requires cities to establish a procedure which will allow property owners to unilaterally elect to communicate with the city by electronic means, rather than by agreement between the property owner and city. The bill broadly defines the term “communication” to include a notice, rendition, application, report, filing, statement, order, bill, or any other item of information required or permitted by law.
The new law further requires cities to prominently display the information necessary for proper electronic delivery of communications on the city’s website (if the city maintains a website), as well as on each communication sent to the property owner. Additionally, the city cannot charge a fee to accept a communication delivered electronically.
Disclosure of Incentive Agreement Information (S.B. 1340):
The goal of this bill is to create more transparency in local development agreements entered between private entities and governing bodies. Under this bill, the Texas Comptroller is required to maintain a Local Development Agreement Database displaying certain details of all tax abatement agreements entered into by Texas cities, including 1) the name and contact information of any entity or the entity’s agent that entered into the agreement with a city (or other local government); 2) the date on which the agreement went into effect and date and terms on which the agreement expires; 3) the total monetary value of the agreement; and 4) the source of the money used or type of tax implicated by the agreement, including a sales and use tax, property tax, or hotel occupancy tax.
The new law also requires that all cities that maintain an internet website and that execute a property tax abatement agreement provide a direct link on the city’s website to the location of the tax abatement information published on the comptroller’s Local Development Agreement Database.
Required Certification for Groundwater Supply in Subdivision Plat (S.B. 2240):
Prior to S.B. 2240, if a person submitted a plat for a subdivision of a tract of land for which the source of the water supply is groundwater under the land, a city could elect to require the plat application to include a statement prepared by a licensed engineer or licensed geoscientist certifying that adequate groundwater is available for the subdivision.
Under the new law, cities must now require such certification as part of the subdivision plat if the source of water supply is groundwater under the land.
Reauthorization of Building Permit Fees (H.B. 1922):
Generally, the governing body of a city has been required to hold a public hearing and vote to reauthorize any city fee charged as a condition of constructing, renovating, or remodeling a residential or commercial structure at least once every 10 years pursuant to Section 212 of the Local Government Code. Now, pursuant to H.B. 1922, the legislature established that a city’s failure to hold a public hearing and vote to reauthorize such a fee by the 10th anniversary of the fee being adopted or reauthorized will result in the fee becoming automatically abolished.
This new law will require cities to determine when they initially adopted (or last reauthorized) their building permit fee schedules to determine when they must act to preserve their current fees (or to determine if such fee has already expired under the new law).
For a complete list of all laws that became effective on January 1, 2024, please follow this link: https://capitol.texas.gov/Reports/Report.aspx?LegSess=88R&ID=effectivejan1
Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice.