Commissioners Reject Burn Ban as well as Hoelscher's Letter to State Demanding Reimbursement for $18.5 Million Covering 17 Years of Unfunded Mandates


SAN ANGELO, TX — Tom Green County Commissioners on Tuesday declined to ban outdoor burning even with temperatures expected to reach above 100 degrees everyday for the next week.  

Tom Green County Emergency Management Director Steve Mild told the court conditions are deteriorating rapidly and he would probably recommend reinstating the burn ban at next Tuesday’s regular meeting.  

The court spent an extensive amount of time Tuesday morning discussing a proposed letter by Pct. 1 Commissioner Ralph Hoelscher about unfunded mandates and lateral road funding from the state.  

Hoelscher read his letter which stated the State of Texas owes Texas counties $2.6 billion for indigent defense attorneys since 2001.  Hoelscher says the state owes Tom Green County $18.5 million and the letter requests the legislature reimburse Texas counties in full from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.  

The letter goes on to say the legislature should hold a special session on County funding and urges a Constitutional Amendment banning all future unfunded mandates.  

After much discussion, County Judge Steve Floyd said he couldn’t support Hoelscher’s letter as written because it asks the legislature for 17 years of reimbursements that isn’t going to happen. “It has absolutely no chance of being approved.”  Floyd said. “I can support everything in the letter but the reimbursement.”

Commissioners discussed re-wording the letter to include a statement about the $2.6 billion owed, but not a request for reimbursement.  Hoelscher made a motion to approve the letter and Pct. 4 Commissioner Bill Ford seconded the motion. After the discussion, Ford withdrew his second and the court agreed to bring back the issue next week.  

Commissioners then discussed Hoelscher’s second letter dealing with increasing funds for road and bridge maintenance.  Hoelscher said the amount of state funding for county roads hasn’t changed since 1954 and requested the legislature increase road funding to counties by 20 times.

Judge Floyd said the legislature authorizes counties to assess a $10 fee on each vehicle registration in the county and that amount has not been increased since 1989.  The court approved rewriting the lateral road letter to request an increase that vehicle registration fee and email that letter to legislators and counties in preparation for the next legislative session.  

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