Image: Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, left, and State Representative and candidate for Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, right.
Conroe, September 15 – The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, recognized the County government leaders who reduced their departmental spending for the coming Fiscal Year 2018 Budget along with the two members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court who led them to reduce that spending. Sadly, despite the spending reductions in the ten departments, overall governmental expenditures of the Montgomery County government actually increased to the highest level in history.
Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal is a major proponent and booster of tax dollar spending. Doyal has made clear that he believes government should become involved in centralized planning and economic development rather than allow private businesses and free markets to lead in those areas. As a result, despite a significant reduction in debt service for the coming fiscal year, Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador voted for a budget which will ultimately cost taxpayers more money, since the Montgomery Central Appraisal District (under Riley’s and Meador’s direction) has inflicted gigantic property tax appraisal increases on Montgomery County citizens during the past three years.
Even with the 20% homestead exemption, which the Commissioners Court reluctantly passed after intense leadership and lobbying by local political activist Kelli Cook, most Montgomery County taxpayers will pay far more in property taxes during the coming year than they did three years ago.
After the Citizens Budget Committee began its work with the goal of reducing County government spending by $100 million over four years with an increase in law enforcement spending and a capital projects budget for roads and bridges in the range of $40 million, for a net spending reduction of $60 million per year, Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark proposed a 5% across-the-board spending reduction for all county departments on February 7 and 8, 2017.
Clark’s and Noack’s call for spending reductions contradicted the suggestions of County Judge Doyal who wanted increased spending in the Montgomery County budget at the rate of the growth in population and inflation. Doyal has made clear that be believes “fiscal conservatism” is a term to describe spending and tax increases.
Clark and Noack met with several County department heads during the budget period to discuss methods by which they might reduce their budgets. Upon the suggestion of the Citizens Budget Committee, Clark and Noack clarified that their call for across-the-board spending cuts only applied to non-law-enforcement departments.
Sadly, nothing was done to address the skyrocketing salaries of elected officials and managers within the Montgomery County government whose salaries are both well above the norm for Texas county governments and ahead even of comparable private sector salaries.
After all of the machinations of the budget process, ten Department Directors reduced the budgets five percent (5%) or more and received “The Golden Hammer Lapel Pin Award.”
The lapel pins, presented during the September 12, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting were small enough not to make Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley feel under some sort of threat. Riley has previously expressed concerns for his safety from The Golden Hammer‘s presentation of a foam rubber prop hammer painted gold in the Commissioners Court room. The lapel pins each weigh under 0.10 ounces according to a United States Postal Service meter scale.
After the awards presentation, several of the Department Directors fashionably wore their lapel pins around town throughout the day very much like athletes who’ve completed a marathon or other race wear their medals after the competition.
Congratulations to the twelve recipients:
James Brown, Airport Maintenance.
Paul Case, Director, Building Maintenance Department.
Jim Clark, Precinct 4 County Commissioner, who suggested the 5% spending reductions.
Suzie Harvey, Elections Administrator.
Nathan Jensen, Drug Court and DWI Court.
Gloria Kessler, Mental Health Department.
Virginia Little, Director, Risk Management Department.
Tammy McRae, Tax Assessor-Collector.
Mark Mooney, County Engineer.
James Noack, Precinct 3 County Commissioner, who suggested the 5% spending reductions.
Dodi Shaw, Director, Human Resources Department.
Mark Turnbull, County Clerk.