Founded in 1954 and headquartered in Nashville, the Tennessee County Services Association (TCSA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group representing counties before the Tennessee General Assembly and the state administration. According to the by-laws of the organization, TCSA was created for the “...purpose of developing more efficient and economical functions of local government to promote the common welfare of the people.” It was meant to accomplish this mission by:
- collecting and sharing information about government and the administration of counties,
- by providing a means for county officials to exchange ideas and experience and
- by providing a means for counties to act harmoniously in regard to matters affecting the rights and liabilities of counties.
The by-laws also provide that TCSA is to work cooperatively with the National Association of Counties and other appropriate organizations to protect the interests of Tennessee counties in matters of state and national significance. The creation of TCSA allowed for two major bodies of county government, County Judges (now known as County Mayors) and Highway Superintendents, to be associated under one umbrella organization offering opportunities for more resources and a stronger voice to better serve their communities. When Tennessee Magistrates formed an association in 1969, now known as the Tennessee County Commissioners Association, TCSA welcomed them into the fold.
Today, TCSA is an umbrella organization made up of three affiliate associations – the Association of County Mayors (ACM), the Tennessee County Commissioner’s Association (TCCA), and the Tennessee County Highway Officials Association (TCHOA). This combined membership represents over 1,800 elected and appointed officials of both the executive and legislative branches of county government.
TCSA Works for Local County Government Leaders on a Statewide Level
TCSA offers a range of services directly and indirectly through relationships with partner agencies and organizations to deliver information resources, financial management tools, advocacy, intergovernmental relations and technical assistance. This is all done with the purpose of helping county officials improve the operation of Tennessee county government and thereby the services provided to their residents. Specifically, TCSA strives to:
• Serve as a liaison for counties with other levels of government
• Improve public understanding of counties
• Act as a statewide advocate for counties
• Inform county officials about issues impacting their office and duties
• Help counties find innovative methods for meeting the challenges they face
• Provide educational and networking opportunities for county officials
TCSA works hard to secure and preserve state funds for counties and, most importantly, exerts a strong effort to prevent the passage of unfunded mandates. Throughout the legislative session, TCSA provides regular information to county officials about bills impacting county government. TCSA communicates directly with legislative and administrative officials, participates in studies and task forces, enables county officials to testify before legislative committees, and helps members of the General Assembly know firsthand how proposed legislation will impact county government. Several state boards and commissions have county government representatives serving as members by law. In general, TCSA is recognized as the representative of county government in Tennessee and is looked to for nominations for those appointments.
TCSA hosts three major conferences a year: a County Government Day event during the legislative session, a Legislative Conference at the end of session to inform county officials of the outcomes, and a Fall Conference and Trade Show that offers an extensive program of workshops and educational sessions in addition to a major showcase of vendors of goods and services used by counties. TCSA releases publications throughout the year and hosts websites for itself and its affiliates that connect county officials with information and news of interest to local government on an on-going basis.