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Texas law allows local government entities to provide emergency assistance to one another under mutual aid agreements or the Texas Statewide Mutual Aid System (the “system”). See Tex. Government Code §§418.107(c) and 791.027. A city may provide emergency assistance to another local government, whether or not the local governments have previously agreed to contract to provide that kind of assistance if: (1) in the opinion of the presiding officer of the requesting local government, a state or civil emergency exists in the local government that requires assistance and the presiding officer requests the assistance; and (2) before the emergency assistance is provided, the governing body of the local government providing the assistance authorizes that local government to provide assistance by resolution or other official action. See Tex. Government Code §791.027(a). A “local government entity” is a county, incorporated city, independent school district, public junior college district, emergency services district, other special district, joint board, or other entity defined as a political subdivision under Texas law that maintains the capability to provide mutual aid.” Tex. Government Code §418.004(10). “Mutual aid” refers to any activity related to the prevention or discovery of, response to, or recovery from a terrorist attack, a natural or manmade disaster, hostile military or paramilitary action, or extraordinary law enforcement emergency performed under the system or a written mutual aid agreement. See id. at§§418.004(11) and 421.001(3). If a request for mutual assistance is made to a city, the city manager or the highest ranking officer of the city, with the approval and consent of the mayor or the mayor’s designee, may provide the requested assistance in accordance with the polices, ordinances, and procedures established by the city’s governing body. See Tex. Government Code §418.115(b).
A city is expected to use its own resources and the resources available to it through mutual aid assistance before requesting assistance from the state. 37 TAC §7.23. A city may need to tap into reserve funds if appropriations for disaster preparation or recovery were not included in the city’s original budget. To add funds to the original budget, a city would need to amend its budget. State law allows a city to increase its budget only if there a “grave public necessity to meet an unusual and unforeseen condition that could not have been included in the original budget through the use of reasonably diligent thought and attention...” Tex. Local Government Code §102.009(b) (note that under section 102.101 of the Local Government Code, a city may amend its budget at any time for city purposes, provided total budget expenditures under the budget are not increased). If the city amends its original budget to authorize an emergency expenditure, the city must file a copy of the order or resolution amending the budget with the city secretary, and attach such order or resolution to the original budget. Id. at §102.009(c). The amended budget must also be filed with the county clerk office. Id. at §102.009(d).
If local resources are exhausted and assistance is needed outside a mutual aid agreement, the mayor is authorized to request such resources from other political subdivisions or the state. See 37 TAC §§7.23 and 7.25. Before a city can request assistance from the state, a city must request assistance from the county where the city is located. See id. at §7.23. A request for recovery assistance must be in writing and must indicate that the disaster is of such magnitude that local resources are inadequate to deal with it and the affected locality cannot recover without state or federal assistance. Id. at §7.4. Additionally, the mayor must have declared a local state of disaster before she or he can request disaster recovery assistance from the state. Id. at §7.41. An estimate of the extent of damages sustained to public and private property including homes and business date on the number of people who are deceased, injured or displaces must be attached to the request for assistance along with a copy of the declaration of a local disaster. Id. at 7.43.
A city that participates in disaster preparation or disaster recovery is eligible for funding from the state disaster contingency fund to pay for costs incurred by the city in preparing for and recovering from a disaster. Tex. Government Code §418.073(c). A city that receives funding from the disaster contingency fund to pay for costs associated with disaster recovery and that subsequently receives reimbursement from the federal government, an insurer, or another source shall reimburse the disaster contingency fund. Id. at §418.073(f). A city that is experiencing financial hardship as a result of a disaster may also use funds provided to the city from the disaster contingency fund for purposes of providing local matching funds for FEMA qualifying projects. Id. 418.073(h).