An increasing number of towns in Texas are resisting urban encroachment by establishing municipal jurisdictions that prevent annexation by land-hungry neighbors. Such towns are being called liberty cities because they are maximizing the freedom of their residents by minimizing taxation and regulation and protecting their liberties. In contrast, typical municipalities end up with a very managed economy and create complex regulatory environments for businesses and residents. This liberty city initiative is lead by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) which authored a paper on the matter in 2015.
Von Ormy became a liberty city when it incorporated in 2008 to protect its residents from being swallowed up by San Antonio’s regulations and taxes. By 2014, Von Ormy eliminated its property tax and maintains zero public debt. Most all city services have been outsourced and the police department is a mainly volunteer force. Sandy Oaks followed Von Ormy’s lead in 2014 and, in 2015, instituted a sales tax to supplant the property tax for that year. Likewise, Kingsbury voted in 2015 to incorporate therefore avoiding being declared an inevitable extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of Seguin.
As more small municipalities thrive separate from their bigger neighbors, more towns are sure to follow in the liberty city model. But perhaps there is more to the story. Is it possible that the liberty city movement is a microcosm of the very real call for Texas to protect itself from Washington, D.C.?
In fact, the liberty city trend characterizes the sentiment that permeates the Texas culture: Texans have a deep sense of pride in the place that they call home. Even at the local level, denizens of the Lone Star State are deeply of shared culture and history and are quick to defend it. Local independence, then, is a metaphor for the growing sense that Texas should reassert its own independence.
Independence begins with the recognition that a particular people are uniquely tied to a place: that they and their posterity are inseparably linked by a shared history and bond of affection. Indeed, whether Texans lives in a small town in the panhandle, or a suburb of Dallas, they identify with each other. Whether born in Texas or, to paraphrase the famous bumper sticker, you got here as fast as you could, each of us comes to share in the pride of our magnificent country and our outstanding populace. This shared sense of community is the best foundation for governance, and that shouldn’t be taken away by a big city, for a big federal government.
Ultimately, at both at the local and state level, Texans have realized that we have something truly unique and extraordinary and that we will not be able to pass it down to our children if we don’t stand up and make a course correction. The only way Texans can set their own course is to declare out loud, in one voice, that Texas is a free and independent “liberty nation.”