In the summer of 1913, Austin Mayor A.P. Wooldridge issued a call to the cities of Texas to come to Austin to consider the creation of an association to allow officials to confer on municipal issues. He invited representatives of all Texas cities to a convention in Austin on November 4, 1913.
Thirteen cities answered his call:
- New Braunfels
- San Marcos
- Wichita Falls
At that First Annual Convention of the League of Texas Municipalities, Mayor Wooldridge said,
I know this, that you all need the League as badly as I need it. I am right here at the capitol, and yet I need to touch elbows with my neighbors all over the State, and your lot and condition is no better than mine. These, in very brief words, are the purposes of this meeting.
At that meeting, representatives approved a modest annual membership fee for member cities ($5 for cities under 5,000 in population and $10 for cities over 5,000 in population) to fund the League, and adopted a constitution to govern the association.
The idea of a municipal league caught on, and during the next 35 years, the League grew rapidly. In the early years, the League's services were few: publishing a magazine, conducting an annual conference, and responding to miscellaneous requests for assistance.
After World War II, Texas evolved into an urban state, and the needs of Texas cities grew. As a result of this evolution, the League prepared to expand its services and staff. The 1958 annual conference produced a new name and a new constitution and organization with a strong legislative program. The name of the association was changed from the League of Texas Municipalities to the Texas Municipal League. The new constitution set up a departmental and regional form of representation on the Texas Municipal League (TML) Board by establishing departments of affiliated members and sub-state regions.
The convention of 1958 was a pivotal event for the Texas Municipal League. The organization, which had survived on a minimal staff, was about to undergo a great growth process. Staffing was increased, dues were raised, and the new TML took on a programmatic approach to service. This period of growth and refinement of services has been ongoing and continues today.
During the 1970s, TML member cities called upon the League to assist in the formation of insurance pools specifically designed to meet municipal needs. In 1974, the TML Workers Compensation Joint Insurance Fund was established. A statewide group life and health insurance program was established in 1979, and in 1982, a liability and property insurance fund was established. From the beginning, those insurance funds, today known as risk pools, have been governed by boards of directors separate from the TML Board.
In 1988, the Texas Municipal League reorganized its service delivery system, resulting in three separate entities: TML itself and two risk pools. A close administrative relationship still exists among all three entities.
The League exists solely to provide services to Texas cities. Since the first day of its existence, the League's mission has remained the same: to serve the needs and advocate the interests of cities and city officials. Indeed, the TML Constitution states that the purpose of the League is "to render services which individual cities have neither time, money nor strength to do alone." In practice, that mission translates into the following services:
- To represent the interests of member cities before legislative, administrative, and judicial bodies at the state and federal levels.
- To sponsor and conduct an annual conference and other conferences, seminars, meetings, and workshops for the purpose of studying municipal issues and exchanging information regarding municipal government.
- To provide administrative services to the Texas Municipal League risk pools so that quality coverages at reasonable and competitive prices can be made available to member cities and their employees.
- To publish and circulate an official magazine and other publications, reports, and newsletters of interest to member cities.
- To serve as a repository of literature, analyses, research, and data related to municipal operations and make that information available to member cities.
- To alert member cities of important governmental or private sector actions or proposed actions which may affect municipal operations.
- To promote the interests of League affiliates (departments) and regions by providing organizational and technical assistance as directed by the Board and consistent with financial resources.
- To promote constructive and cooperative relationships among cities and between the League and other levels of government, councils of governments, the National League of Cities, educational institutions, and the private sector.
- To provide for and conduct training in relevant and timely topics related to municipal government.
- To provide, in a timely manner, any additional services or information which individual members may request, consistent with the member cities' common interests and the League's resources.
Today, 1,158 Texas cities are members of the Texas Municipal League. The League is governed by a Board of Directors made up of:
- President and president-elect
- Regional directors, one from each of the League's 15 sub-state regions
- Affiliate directors, one from each of the League's 21 affiliates
- Eight at-large directors, one from each of the state's eight largest cities
- All past presidents still in municipal office
- Two ex officio directors, one from health and risk pools
The League's Executive Committee, which is empowered to take any actions that may arise between meetings of the full TML Board, includes the president, the president-elect, the past presidents, and two other Board members appointed by the president and the executive director.
The Board appoints an executive director to manage the affairs of the League under the Board's general direction. Today, the League employs a staff of more than 30 and is organized into seven departments:
- Administrative Services
- Affiliate Services
- Business Development
- Communications and Programs
- Legal Services
- Legislative Services
- Member Services