Supreme Court

22-1149 - Borgelt v. Austin Firefighters Assoc. IAFF Local 975 

Borgelt v. Austin Firefighters Assoc. IAFF Local 975

  • Case number: 22-1149
  • Legal category: Constitutional Law
  • Subtype: Gift Clauses
  • Set for oral argument: February 21, 2024

Case Summary

The main issue is whether a provision in a collective bargaining agreement that allocates a pool of paid leave to further a union’s interests violates any “Gift Clause” in the Texas Constitution (Article III, Sections 50, 51, 52(a) and Article XVI, Section 6(a)). The Gift Clauses are structural limitations that aim to reduce the misuse of public funds and resources by requiring specific conditions to be met before such expenditures can be made.

The Austin Firefighters Association represented members of the Austin Fire Department in contract negotiations with the City of Austin, which resulted in a collective bargaining agreement. Article 10 of the agreement allocates thousands of hours of paid leave to be used by the Association president and authorized firefighters for “Association business.”

A group of Austin taxpayers sued the Association and City, arguing that Article 10 violates the Gift Clauses because it lacks sufficient consideration and fails to serve a predominantly public purpose. The State intervened in support of the taxpayers and further asserted that Article 10 does not serve a strictly public purpose. The trial court rendered judgment for the defendants after a bench trial. The court of appeals affirmed, reasoning that the paid leave arrangement is not a gratuitous gift and serves a predominantly public purpose.

The taxpayers and the State filed petitions for review, which the Supreme Court granted.


Case summaries are created by the Court's staff attorneys and law clerks and do not constitute the Court’s official descriptions or statements. Readers are encouraged to review the Court’s official opinions for specifics regarding each case. Links to the full case documents are included above.