Meeting the Needs of Collin CountyAug 01, 2015 ● By Christine Perrenot
Commissioners CourtThe Commissioners Court serves as the administrative head of county government in all of the 254 counties within Texas. Structurally, this governing body is comprised of a county judge, elected at large, who presides over the court, and four commissioners, who are each elected in a precinct, representing a quarter of the county by population. This council annually adopts the county tax rate and budget, sets the salary and budget for independent elected officials and outlines department expenditures. The court also executes countywide policies and legislation in the form of court orders.
The county Commissioners Court, as established by the Texas Constitution of 1876, included a county judge as the presiding leader and four commissioners elected from precincts. The Commissioners Court is dubbed as the general governing body of a county. It establishes a courthouse and a jail, appoints numerous minor officials, fills vacancies in county offices, contracts in the name of the county, builds and maintains roads and bridges, administers the county’s public welfare services, sets the county tax rate, issues bonds, adopts the county budget and serves as a board of equalization for tax assessments. The four county commissioners each represent a separate area of the county and serve as voting members of the court. Commissioners are elected to four-year terms and are elected by the represented precinct votes.
Duties of the Commissioners CourtThe mission of the Collin County Commissioners court “is to deliver services including justice, public safety and public health as mandated by the State of Texas and to execute other priorities as determined by the Commissioners Court.” The court meets every Monday at 1:30 p.m. (except on the fifth Monday of the month or holidays), and considers the week’s agenda, similar to the way a city council would operate. Agendas are typically between 500 and 1,500 pages of supporting documentation, so lengthy preparation is required on the part of the court.
In Collin County, the elected county judge is Keith Self, and the elected commissioners are Susan Fletcher (Precinct 1), Cheryl Williams (Precinct 2), Chris Hill (Precinct 3) and Duncan Webb (Precinct 4).
According to the Collin County Commissioners Court website, “Collin County carries out our mission by delivering timely, high-quality, state-mandated services in the most cost-effective and innovative manner possible. We strive for excellence from our employees and outstanding value for our citizens. We encourage citizen involvement and will maintain the family-oriented quality of life we enjoy while preserving our rich heritage. By maintaining low taxes and a strong tax base, Collin County is committed to high-quality growth to attract successful businesses that provide excellent career opportunities for our citizens. Collin County strives for financial stability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness. We initiate discretionary projects after determining their value to our citizens.”
Ms. Fletcher, the Collin County Commissioners Court Precinct 1 representative, said, “There are 35 elected officials who each run their own departments, but the Commissioners Court is responsible for their budgets. There is also a portion of the budget that is overseen by district judges, including the county auditor. The main responsibility of county government is judicial--from the constables to the courts, from the deputies to the district attorney’s office, including the jail and county or district clerks’ offices. Another key function is road and bridge maintenance in the unincorporated areas, as well as maintaining and improving mobility throughout the county. Other duties include administration of elections, human services, public records, vehicle registrations and transfers, property taxes and state-mandated indigent health care.”
Ms. Fletcher – Representing Frisco in Precinct 1Ms. Fletcher, a 19-year Frisco resident, represents Frisco, West Plano, Prosper, Celina and Northwest McKinney. Precinct 1 is made up of 177.46 square miles, has a parcel count of 81.494, has a market value of $28.3 billion and has a current population estimate of 249,342 people. For the fifth year in a row, Collin County was recognized by the Texas Comptroller with a Leadership Circle platinum award. Ms. Fletcher said, “We are blessed to live in a country where our forefathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor so we would have the right to choose our own representatives, and I am honored to have been entrusted with this great responsibility to represent Frisco, Prosper, Celina, McKinney and Plano on the Collin County Commissioners Court. Being a good steward of public funds is critical, and it is important to approach this job with integrity, an open mind and a vision for the future.”
What does a typical day on the job look like for Ms. Fletcher? She is entrusted with a vast amount of responsibility for the citizens of Collin County, including responding to constituent concerns, meeting with city officials and meeting with county staff and other regional entities. She shared, “When I ran for this position, I promised to partner with our municipal leadership and focus on transportation, economic development and public safety, while at the same time using our taxpayers’ funds wisely. Therefore, I have devoted significant time and energy to these key areas, knowing that strong and vibrant communities do not just happen by accident. They require a strategic plan that incorporates a creative vision and opportunities for our growing population. It is also very important to me to invest time to learn about each department within the county and become familiar with their functions. No matter what role each of us play, I believe we are all in the customer service industry, and the residents of Collin County are our customers.”
Ms. Fletcher focuses on keeping the tax rate low and considers public safety a high priority. She has a background in commercial interior design and construction and was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to serve on the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy that certifies, examines and licenses Texas accountants. She has served as the chairman of the Collin County Health Care Foundation Advisory Board and has served on the Collin County Election Ballot Board. Ms. Fletcher served two terms as the past president of Golden Corridor Republican Women and she has served as a National Delegate to the Republican National Convention. She served twice on the Republican Party of Texas State Platform Committee and represented Texas in Washington, DC, twice at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference. “I enjoy serving and helping our citizens in a role where I can make a real difference for our community,” she said. One of Ms. Fletcher’s favorite things about her job is having the opportunity to serve so many wonderful charities and service organizations, including Frisco Family Services, City House Homeless Shelter, Habitat for Humanity and the Veterans Center of North Texas.
“Regarding Frisco in particular, I am so proud of our city! We have such a rich history, stellar city leadership and a diverse community that is second-to-none. Frisco is an example of ‘rapid growth done right,’ much of which can be credited to our city manager George Purefoy and a host of current and past mayors and city council members who dared to dream big,” she shared.
Meetings of the Commissioners Court are open to the public. They are broadcast live online and are archived. “I believe elected officials should listen to everyone they represent, not just those who voted for them. Certainly, I was elected based on a strong set of values that were communicated through my platform. That is ‘who I am.’ However, regarding ‘what I do,’ it is just as important to have open lines of communication, an open door policy and to be accountable to the people as a whole,” Ms. Fletcher shared about her dedication to her role in the court.
To reach someone at the Collin County Commissioners Court, email [email protected] or call 972-424-1460 ext. 4631. Visit collincountytx.gov to learn more about the people who are making a difference in your city.