COUNCILS OF GOVERNMENT

Councils of governments (COG), regional councils, or commissions are political subdivisions of the state codified pursuant to the Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 391. These councils were organized to guide unified development and improve efficiency within regions.

These organizations are not governments and have no authority to make laws, levy taxes, or exercise police powers. Texas has 24 COGs that represent all 254 counties. These communities are made up of counties, cities, school districts, and special districts. These organizations were developed from 1966 to the early 1970s.

 

Service Programs

COGs are authorized to conduct planning; assist local governments in implementing plans; contract with local, state, and federal governments and other public and private agencies to provide community services; and assist local governments in solving governmental problems. COGs also serve as intermediaries among federal, state, and local governments while reviewing and commenting on applications for federal and state grants-in-aid and solid waste permits.

Texas’ COGs conduct regional planning activities that vary among regions. Typically, these activities include planning for economic growth, water supply and water quality, air quality, transportation, emergency preparedness, implementing regional homeland security strategies, maintaining and improving regional 911 systems, and the delivery of social services. Each council’s policy decisions are made by its board of directors, which includes at least two-thirds of its members from elected officials of participating counties or municipalities.

Coordination

The Texas Association of Regional Councils is a statewide association developed in 1973 by an interlocal agreement among the state’s 24 COGs. The organization provides COGs a mechanism for the regular exchange of information and ideas; educates other governmental entities and public and private organizations; educates the public about the services and functions of regional councils; and represents the councils when addressing state or federal agencies and legislative bodies.

Revenue Sources

COGs primarily receive funding from federal sources, but the councils also receive funding from state and local sources. On the local level, a COG collects dues from and for its member governments. A COG may receive a state grant based on the amount of local dues it collects; and it may receive direct or indirect federal grants through the state. In fiscal year 2020, the 24 COGs collectively received approximately $1.024 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $1.001 billion in expenditures. Figure 1 shows the fiscal year 2020 expenditures and each COG’s two largest program expenditures.

Figure 1

Texas Councils of Governments' Expenditures, Fiscal Year 2022 (In Millions)
CouncilHeadquartersTotal ExpendituresLargest ProgramExpended2nd Largest ProgramExpended
Panhandle RPCAmarillo$29.6Workforce Development$20.6Aging Services$3.8
South Plains AOGLubbock$7.7Aging Services$2.3Emergency Communications$1.3
Nortex RPCWichita Falls$4.7Area Agency on Aging$2.1Emergency Communications$0.78
North Central Texas COGArlington$159.3Workforce Development$84.3Transportation$40.6
Ark-Tex COGTexarkana$17.5Housing and Urban Development$7.5Transportation$4.0
East Texas COGKilgore$50.6Workforce Development$36.8Aging Services$5.0
West Central Texas COGAbilene$15.2Employer of Record Services$4.0Aging Services$2.9
Rio Grande COGEl Paso$8.9Aging Services$6.7Emergency Communications$0.78
Permian Basin RPCMidland$6.2Aging Services$2.4Emergency Communications$2.0
Concho Valley COGSan Angelo$21.4Family and Children Services$8.1Emergency Communications$5.5
Heart of Texas COGWaco$8.3Aging Services$3.5Transportation$1.6
Capital Area COGAustin$28.0Emergency Communications$12.3Aging Services$10.5
Brazos Valley COGBryan$48.9Housing and Urban Development$15.6Workforce Development$13.1
Deep East Texas COGLufkin$20.1Housing$11.9Emergency Services$2.9
South East Texas RPCBeaumont$12.6Emergency Communications$2.9Aging Services$2.6
Houston-Galveston ACHouston$392.0Workforce Development$343.6Transportation$22.2
Golden Crescent RPCVictoria$10.2Health and Welfare$7.6Public Safety$.89
Alamo Area COGSan Antonio$55.9Aging Services$26.0Health and Welfare$13.3
South Texas DCLaredo$9.7HIV Intervention and Prevention$4.9Aging Services$2.4
Coastal Bend COGCorpus Christi$7.7Health and Welfare$4.8Emergency Communications$2.1
Lower Rio Grande Valley DCWeslaco$28.2Health and Human Services$7.5Transportation Services$6.2
Texoma COGSherman$14.9Housing and Client Services$9.8Aging Services$2.7
Central Texas COGBelton$51.4Health and Human Services$18.7Housing and Urban Development$15.4
Middle Rio Grande DCCarrizo Springs$15.2Economic Opportunity$10.6Health and Welfare Services$2.3
Note: RPC=regional planning commission; AOG=association of governments; COG=council of governments; AC=area council; DC=development council.
Source: Texas State Auditor's Office, A Summary of Financial and Performance Reports Submitted by Regional Planning Commissions, March 2022 (Report No. 22-025)