Certain cities have express authority to swap or apportion their ETJs. TEX. LOC. GOV’T CODE § 42.024. It is not clear whether general law cities have authority to contractually agree to swap ETJ. This issue was discussed in a recent case styled City of Justin v. Town of Northlake, No. 06- 17-00054-CV, 2018 WL 4259853 (Tex. App.—Texarkana June 15, 2018, pet. denied) (mem. op.). In that case, the City of Fort Worth exchanged ETJ with a general law city (Town of Northlake) pursuant to Texas Local Government Code Section 43.021 (re-codified in 2017 as Texas Local Government Code Section 43.003), which provides as follows:
A home-rule municipality may take the following actions according to rules as may be provided by the charter of the municipality and not inconsistent with the requirements prescribed by this chapter:
(1) fix the boundaries of the municipality;
(2) extend the boundaries of the municipality and annex area adjacent to the municipality; and
(3) exchange area with other municipalities.
The City of Justin argued, among other things, that the agreement between the two cities was void and invalid because it violated the Local Government Code. Although the court refused to make any finding as to that argument, it did conclude that Section 43.021 (now Section 43.003) specifically addresses the “authority given to a home-rule municipality, i.e., a home-rule municipality may exchange area (to include its ETJ) with other municipalities” but does not “address the authority given to the receiving city” so it has “little, if any, relevance regarding [a general law city’s] authority to . . . accept or exchange ETJ.” Id. at n.22-23.