Image: Montgomery County Judge Doyal takes his directions from local political boss Marc Davenport.
Conroe, August 7 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court intends, after its 4-day “budget workshop” during which County Judge Craig Doyal excluded citizen participation, to make history by passing the highest operational expenditure budget ever.
The proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget for County Operations will rise to $295,158,031 from $292,493,015 in Fiscal Year 2017. The only reason the total budget for Fiscal Year 2018 might be lower than the previous year is because Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack showed the County Auditor how to defease substantial debt, so that the debt service amount in the budget declined by more than $21 million.
Doyal essentially made no contributions whatsoever to the budget process except that, according to Noack, Doyal encouraged the Department heads to ignore Noack’s and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark’s request to reduce their departmental budgets by 5%. Amazingly, Doyal has now attempted to take the credit for a 5.5% budget reduction all of which resulted from Noack’s work to reduce the County’s debt service.
In actuality, Doyal increased spending for Fiscal Year 2018. To be fair, approximately $4 million of increases occurred in law enforcement personnel, which even the Citizens Budget Committee supported. Nevertheless, the Committee also proposed more than $24 million of spending reductions all of which Doyal and the Commissioners Court ignored.
It’s surprising that in this time period when citizens are vocally demanding government spending reductions in Montgomery County, the County government is actually increasing spending. Under Doyal as the County Judge, the County’s spending has increased dramatically – 11.3% in Fiscal Year 2016 alone, the first full Fiscal Year over which Doyal presided as County Judge. Since the County Judge has very little operational responsibility in the County government, one might think that Doyal would take the time to identify managerial efficiencies that could lead to budget reductions. Instead, Doyal has mostly been absent from the County government.
Unless the Commissioners Court significantly changes course between now and September 5, the day when the Court will adopt its final budget and tax rate, Montgomery County citizens will have to wait another year before they have the chance of seeing real spending reform. A change in course is unlikely over the next month. Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador supported higher spending at every turn during the budget workshop.