The Harris County Commissioners Court is an administrative body which serves as the main governing body for the entire county. It is composed of a county judge and four commissioners. Its role is a combination of judicial, legislative and executive functions which include:
- Overseeing county courthouses and jails
- Building and maintaining roads and bridges
- Adopting the County budget
- Setting the County tax rate
- Assuring safe-keeping of land & citizen records
- Issuing contracts in the name of the County
- Providing law enforcement through the County Sheriff
- Administering the County’s public welfare services
- Administering the County's public health services
- Appointing numerous officials
- Issuing bonds
- Overseeing county parks and libraries
- Performing numerous duties in regard to elections
Each year the county commissioners adopt a tax rate and set the county budget. This includes setting salaries and budgets for independent elected officials and for all expenditures for departments under the control of the Commissioners Court.
Additionally, as administrative head of the county, the court has the authority to enact policies and legislation (as provided by law) that have county-wide effects. Their administrative powers extend to selecting individuals to fill unexpired terms for positions in the county, such as county court judges. Each of the four commissioners serve a specific geographical region of the county with roughly the same population. Each commissioner may be charged with oversight of county roads and bridges within their precinct and may be responsible for other areas such as county parks, solid waste management, and flood control.
Commissioners also may represent the county on various boards which fall under the county's purview.
Harris County has a total population of over 4.3 million people and is divided into four commissioner precinct areas, each of roughly the same population size. Precinct 4 encompasses a population of over 1.2 million people.
Precinct 4 includes a large part of the westernmost area along the inside the 610 Loop, up to and including the Oak Forest/Garden Oaks area. It also includes neighborhoods all along US 290 from the 610 North Loop through Jersey Village and Cypress. Tomball, Spring, Humble and Kingwood are also included in Precinct 4.
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