Winter 2014 

Drainage Fees

State Senator Royce West of Dallas has requested an opinion from the attorney general asking whether a school district is exempt from the assessment of a municipal drainage fee under the Municipal Drainage Utility Systems Act (Texas Local Government Code chapter 552, subchapter C). In general, the Act gives municipalities the authority to: establish a municipal drainage utility system; provide rules for the use, operation, and financing of the system; assess, levy, and collect fees to fund the system; and provide exemptions of certain persons from its rules.

Section 552.053 states that a municipality may exempt a school district from ordinances, resolutions, and rules of a municipal drainage utility system. Only property owned by a school district located wholly or partly in El Paso is statutorily exempt.  Texas Tax Code section 11.11 states that property owned by a political subdivision of the state is exempt from taxation if the property is used for public purposes. If the municipal drainage fee is considered a tax, a school district should be exempt.

On April 15, 2014, LAF submitted a letter brief to the Texas attorney general arguing that the plain language of the statute establishes that school districts are exempt from the drainage charge, and the drainage charge established by the Municipal Drainage Utility Systems Act is a tax for which school districts are exempt under the tax code.

RQ-1192-GA (Texas Attorney General).  LAF’s Attorney: Thomas E. Myers—Brackett & Ellis, P.C., Fort Worth