What "type" of municipality is Westlake?
Types of municipal governments in Texas
The authority of a Texas city to enact and enforce ordinances is conditioned on the type of city. Cities in Texas are granted implied powers under the Local Government Code. To determine which state statutes apply to a certain city, it is necessary to know what type of city it is. The city’s “order of incorporation” will determine what type the city is and it should be on file at the county clerk’s office and is the only place to locate the information since there is no statewide database.
A home rule city may adopt and operate under any form of government, including aldermanic or commission form. The city may create officers, determine the method of selecting officers, and prescribe qualifications, duties, and tenure of office for officers. Home rule cities can extend an officer’s term from two to four years with a charter amendment. TEX. CONST. Art. XI, section 11.
General Law Cities
General law cities operate under the aldermanic or commission form of government. The term “alderman” is often used interchangeably with the term city council, and the modern name of the board of aldermen is the city council.
In cities where there are no wards (which includes most Type A cities), the council is made up of the Mayor and five council members. If the city has been divided into wards, the council is made up of a mayor and two council members from each ward. In either case, the mayor does not vote except in the case that his/her vote is needed to break a tie (except in elections).
The board contains a mayor and five aldermen, all of whom are elected at large. The governing body must elect one alderman to serve as mayor pro tem for a term of one year at the first meeting of each new governing body. The aldermen, mayor, and marshal serve one-year terms unless the governing body passes an ordinance allowing for staggered two-year terms.
Type C general law cities operate under the commission form of government and the governing body is known as the “commission.” The commission always consists of a mayor and two commissioners. The commissioners and the mayor have a two-year term of office unless a longer term of office of up to four years is adopted by election under the Texas Constitution.
The Town of Westlake was incorporated in 1956 as a Type A General Law municipality. This type of municipal designation was created by statute in 1858. The statute became the founding legislation for the Texas Local Government Code which outlines the powers and duties of general law cities and towns. Much of the original language from the mid-1800s has survived the test of time and is still used in the Code today.
To distinguish between the two ‘types’ of cities allowable in Texas, the Texas Municipal League states that,
“A home rule city may do anything authorized by its charter that is not specifically prohibited or preempted by the Texas Constitution or state or federal law. A general law city has no charter and may only exercise those powers that are specifically granted or implied by statute.”1
Thus, until the Town reaches a population of more than 5,000 residents, Westlake will remain a Type A municipality.