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How much do you know about county jurisdiction in Texas? 


It’s no secret that county governments have a big part to play in zoning, real estate laws and how developers are able to proceed in a given area. 


With 254 counties in Texas, we thought we’d take some time to crystalize what county jurisdiction looks like in the Lone Star State. In this post, we dig into two parts of the main question:

  • How did county jurisdiction take shape in Texas?

  • Who are the commissioners for Austin MSA and Houston MSA — and what are their responsibilities?


Texas — with a population of 29 million people, or 10 million fewer than California — has the highest number of counties in the United States.


Texas county governments are charged with many of the same responsibilities as counties across the nation. “Counties performed state-mandated duties, which included assessment of property, record keeping (e.g., property and vital statistics), maintenance of rural roads, administration of election and judicial functions,” says the National Association of Counties. “Today, counties rapidly are moving into other areas, undertaking programs relating to child welfare, consumer protection, economic development, employment/training, planning and zoning, and water quality, to name just a few.”

According to the Texas Association of Counties, the main responsibilities of Texas county governments include:

  • Providing public safety and justice

  • Holding elections at every level of government

  • Maintaining Texans’ most important records

  • Building and maintaining roads, bridges and in some cases, county airports

  • Providing emergency management services

  • Providing health and safety services

  • Collecting property taxes for the county and sometimes for other taxing entities

  • Issuing vehicle registration and transfers

  • Registering voters

When did Texas counties start to take shape?

County governments were established even before Texas became a state. The land in the area was divided into ‘municipios’ — in 1836, when the Republic of Texas was formed, these municipios transitioned into the first 23 counties. When Texas joined the United States 9 years later, there were 37 counties. 


But why are there so many counties in the state? “Its founders wanted to keep residents close to their local governments,” writes Marilyn Haigh for The Texas Tribune. 


True to that goal, each county has four county commissioners to administer an individual precinct in the county. You can find more information on Texas county commissioners below.


According to Texas Counties Deliver, county commissioners in the state have three broad responsibilities:

  • As a member of the Commissioners Court, commissioners exercise broad policy-making authority.

  • Commissioners represent one of four precincts within the county.

  • They are also typically responsible for building and maintaining county roads and bridges within their precinct.

Each county has 4 commissioners — one for each precinct in the county. That means there are over 1,000 county commissioners in Texas! 


But who are the commissioners in Austin and Houston?

Austin MSA — County Commissioners

Austin MSA includes 5 counties, so there are 20 county commissioners relevant to brokers and appraisers. Click each link for the contact info for each county commissioner:

  • Bastrop County Commissioners

  • Caldwell County Commissioners

  • Hays County Commissioners

  • Travis County Commissioners 

  • Williamson County Commissioners

Houston MSA — County Commissioners

Houston MSA encompasses nine counties — with 36 county commissioners holding court in the area. Click each link for the contact info for each county commissioner:

  • Austin County Commissioners

  • Brazoria County Commissioners

  • Chambers County Commissioners (navigate to “Commissioners” on the left for Precincts 2-4) 

  • Fort Bend County Commissioners

  • Galveston County Commissioners

  • Harris County Commissioners

  • Liberty County Commissioners

  • Montgomery County Commissioners

  • Waller County Commissioners

Questions on county commissioners — or what kind of research you can do with FuseGIS?

Reach out!


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