Cass County strives to be the example rural Texas county for innovation, transparency, and accessibility. If you are like most folks, you may not know what the County Government does. County Government isn’t streamed into your living room on a daily basis by big media. However, it is quietly working for you as the government closest to the people. Texas’ 254 counties serve their local residents as the functional arm of state government and cost-effectively deliver many important services. They provide for law enforcement and jails, operate the state court system, maintain records like deeds and other vital records, construct and maintain roads and bridges, conduct elections and voter registration, provide emergency management, register motor vehicles, and provide basic healthcare services for indigent residents.
The Texas Constitution spells out the structure of county government and makes counties functional agents of the state. Unlike cities, which have broad authority to enact local ordinances, counties are limited to actions that are specifically authorized in the Texas Constitution and statutes. The constitution also established a strong system of checks and balances in county government by creating several elected (and one appointed) county offices.
The county judge is the presiding officer of the Commissioners Court and represents the county in many administrative functions. The county judge serves as budget officer in counties with fewer than 225,000 residents. Most have broad judicial duties, such as presiding over misdemeanor criminal and small civil cases, probate matters, guardianships, mental health commitments, and appeals from the Justice of the Peace Court. Each county is unique and since Cass County has a county court at law, appeals of the Justice of the Peace Court typically are routed to the County Court at Law or District Court. County Judges also serve as the head of emergency management for the county.
The Commissioners court conducts the general business of the county and consists of the County Judge and four county commissioners who are all elected. The Commissioners court has broad policy-making authority for the county. Each commissioner represents a fourth of the population of the county. The Commissioners Court adopts the county’s budget and tax rate, approves all budgeted purchases of the county, fills vacancies in elective and appointive offices, sets all salaries and benefits for county employees, and has exclusive authority to authorize contracts. Commissioners Court also provides for the maintenance of all county buildings and facilities.
The county’s other elected positions include the county tax assessor-collector, County Clerk, District Clerk, County Treasurer, County Sheriff, four Justices of the Peace, four constables, the District Attorney, and the County Court at Law Judge. The County Auditor is appointed by the District Judge who serves Bowie and Cass County. Each elected and appointed position has their own duties and responsibilities and of all 254 counties, no two are the same. If you have questions about your county government feel free to call my office at 903-756-5181 or check out our website at https://www.co.cass.tx.us/.