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Counties seek bylaw change to gain seat

Profile image for By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer
By Bj Lewis / Staff Writer

Officials from Denton and Collin counties are hoping proposed state legislation will create a much needed seat on the executive board of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Currently, Denton and Collin counties rotate members in and out of the same seat on the board, but population growth in both counties has led their respective county leaders to the conclusion that Collin County needs its own seat.

Denton County Judge Mary Horn said she and Collin County Judge Keith Self have drafted a joint letter to the council’s board asking for a change to the bylaws to create a new seat, but the council denied that request.

Horn said the council was concerned about having an even number of voting members on the board.

“In my opinion and the opinion of the Collin County judge, that is easily remedied by creating another seat for small jurisdictions that they could rotate and they could have more representation,” Horn said.

Instead, the counties sought state legislation from freshman Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, to create the separate seats.

His bill, House Bill 1137, recently was voted out of committee.

“Denton and Collin counties now have 1.5 million people between the two, we represent like 25 percent of the COG population, and yet we still share a seat,” Self said. “Judge Horn and I have worked on this to try and get a permanent seat for more than two years now.”

Self said Collin County residents have paid dues to the council through the county and the cities they live in, and he feels there is no real voice for a large part of the population without a seat on the board.

The council serves a 12-county region around Dallas and Fort Worth, Horn said.

The council’s executive board, which has 13 locally elected officials and one ex officio nonvoting member of the Legislature, is a policymaking body and it makes decisions about regional plans and fiscal policies.

Precinct 3 County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell of Lewisville has held the Denton-Collin seat on the executive board for five years in various positions. One of the things keeping Mitchell on the board is that she worked her way into the officer progression, having served as secretary, vice president and president.

Even after a stint as board president, any outgoing president is kept on the board in a voting capacity, which further keeps Collin County from getting an opportunity at a seat.

Mitchell said that while talk has been had about a seat for Collin County, the cities without representation on the board need to be considered.

“It may be a boon for Denton County and Collin County; we’ll have to work out a way for the cities we have on there, also,” she said. “If the Legislature says we have to do it, we have to come up with a way to make the cities feel represented because there are more of them than us.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.