REGIONAL COUNCILS. Regional councils, also known as councils of governments, regional planning commissions, associations of governments, and area councils, were authorized by the state Regional Planning Act of 1965. They are voluntary associations of local governments that deal with problems and planning needs requiring regional attention. Member governments can include counties, municipalities, school districts, soil and water conservation districts, and other special districts. Each council has its own bylaws or articles of agreement and is usually governed by a general assembly and a board of directors. At least two-thirds of the governing body must consist of elected local officials, while the rest may be general citizen members. The original responsibility of the councils was to plan area development by assisting member governments in meeting federal mandates with regard to water, sewers, open space, and housing planning. In recent years, however, the councils' areas of concern have grown to include planning for employment and training, criminal justice, economic development, health, childhood development, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, transportation, land management, environmental quality, and rural development. Although the councils are official political subdivisions, they have no regulatory powers, and their decisions are nonbinding. Regional councils receive funding from local, state, and federal sources. On the local level, a council collects dues for its member governments; it may receive a state grant based on the amount of local dues it collects; and it may receive direct or indirect (through the state) federal grants. The boundaries of the regional councils coincide with the twenty-four state planning regions designated and reviewed by the governor. In 1991, 253 of the state's 254 counties were members of regional councils.
Regional Councils in Texas: Annual Report and Directory, 1991–1992 (Austin: Texas Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, 1992).