County Budget Workshop redux: The Golden Hammer Award, Meador remembers, Meador forgets, Tammy’s numbers, the scorecard, what they don’t know, the sad librarians

Custodial Services Director Lorena Garcia should realize that these issues aren’t some joke. She’s costing the taxpayers millions of dollars each year. For that she receives The Golden Hammer Award (plunger edition).

Conroe, July 27 – The Montgomery County Commissioner Court “Budget Workshop” continued on Thursday, July 27, 2017, with County Judge Craig Doyal and the Commissioners. For the taxpayers, it was a depressing affair all the way around. Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador has obviously never found a program on which he would restrain himself from eagerly throwing away “other people’s money.” Likewise, Doyal, Meador, and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley continuously remarked how “amazing” and “wonderful” each of the County Department directors were who appeared before them, as Doyal, Meador, and Riley revealed their complete ignorance with respect to County government operations.

The Golden Hammer (plunger edition)

The most ignorant comment of the day came from Lorena Garcia, the Director of Montgomery County’s Custodial Services. The Golden Hammer hereby awards Garcia “The Golden Hammer Award” (plunger edition) for her comment that the Citizens Budget Committee could not possibly know or understand anything about the Custodial Maintenance Department’s Budget without discussing it with her.

On Tuesday, July 25, Garcia revealed her lack of understanding of the physiological causes of “sick building syndrome” at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting when she claimed that lack of custodial services is the cause of the syndrome which unanimous scientific data has tied to poor air conditioning and ventilation systems in buildings.

On Thursday, July 27, however, Garcia ignored the possibility that the Citizens Budget Committee could possibly have obtained information about the Custodial Maintenance Department from a careful examination of:

  • the Custodial Maintenance Department’s requested budget submission provided three months ago to the County Auditor’s Office
  • Personnel Description Questionnaires, describing the duties and responsibilities of each person in the Custodial Maintenance Department, and which Garcia had filled out
  • the County’s Consolidated Annual Financial Report for the Custodial Maintenance Department
  • budget data for nine other counties showing that Montgomery County’s Custodial Maintenance Department is the most inefficient and top-heavy in management and administration of all of them
  • national econometric data showing the mean and median cost of custodial services for buildings of various sizes.

Garcia runs a very troubled department that is costing taxpayers approximately 300% of the national average for an operation of the size of Montgomery County’s government. In other words, Garcia is costing County taxpayers approximately $2 million per year through poor management. Of course, from Garcia’s perspective, that’s “other people’s money.”

Who does Mike Meador remember?

Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador doesn’t seem to understand very much about the Montgomery County government. What he does know, however, is who populates his universe. This newspaper has previously reported that it seems as those engineers who are vendors are Meador’s real constituents.

Towards the end of the day on Thursday, July 27, however, Meador commented that he hoped “we’ll be able to give a raise to all the County employees this year.” That’s after Meador and his four colleagues gave 3% across-the-board raises to every County employee last year, including, of course, themselves, despite the Salary Study Committee’s contrary recommendation. Meador apparently wants to give away the taxpayer’s money again.

While the citizens of this community are struggling with a spotty economy, the oil industry laying off workers left and right, and enormous uncertainty, Meador seeks to take advantage of his and Riley’s ability, as Commissioners and Board of Directors members of the Montgomery Central Appraisal District, to confiscate tax dollars from the citizens at their will.

The entire private sector is tightening its belt. But Mike Meador wants to spend more of “other people’s money.”

Who Mike Meador and his buddies, including the library lady, forget

What’s striking about sitting through the Commissioners Court “budget workshop” is that there is one group of people whom Doyal, the Commissioners, and the County Department Directors (other than law enforcement) never mention: the taxpayers. Apparently, Doyal and his colleagues don’t understand that they’re taxing people, especially the elderly and others on fixed incomes, out of their homes.

Memorial Library Director Jeri Williams’ comments during the Commissioners Court were the most striking of all. Williams has acknowledged that Library usage is down substantially. Nevertheless, she continuously asks for more money. On July 27, Williams made a major point that public libraries are very different in their usage patterns from school or university libraries, which duplicate many of their collections.

It never occurred to Williams to consolidate the mostly-unused collections of the public, school, and university libraries, especially in these times when most people obtain books, research, and data electronically anyway.

It’s time for this community to begin to consolidate library resources between the County and the schools. Duplication of collections is a terrible waste of resources.

It’s time to make the focus of the Montgomery County government the needs and desires of the citizens, not the County bureaucrats protecting their fiefdoms.

Best presentation of the day on Thursday, July 27

Tammy McRae, Montgomery County’s Tax Assessor-Collector always seems to know how to present important information quickly and in an entertaining manner. Her presentation on July 27 was no exception.

The following are McRae’s numbers, which she kindly shared with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper.

This first slide shows the McRae’s projection of tax revenue for the Montgomery County government based upon the projected valuations of properties available for taxation during Fiscal Year 2018 (which begins October 1, 2018).

This second slide shows the projected tax revenue for Montgomery County’s government, if the Commissioners Court were merciful enough to consider a tax rate decrease, despite their failure to make the tough government spending reductions necessary to protect taxpayers in the long-term.

The third slide shows some other taxes the Tax Assessor-Collector collects from hapless taxpayers, as she projects for Fiscal Year 2018.

Where the numbers stand

Thanks largely to the efforts of Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissinoer Jim Clark, the Commissioners Court has reduced the spending budget by approximately $11.5 million and the debt reduction budget by approximately $22 million, for a total of $33.5 million. Increased property values adding to the tax rolls along with decreased tax collections due to the homestead exemption and disabled persons exemptions which the Commissioners Court finally recognized this year yield $15.618 million of decreased revenue to Montgomery County’s government. That means that the County Commissioners Court could reduces the tax rate by $17.9 million at this point, or a tax rate reduction of approximately 6 and one-quarter cents per $100 valuation.

Don’t hold your breath to see that tax decrease happen.

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