Tuesday June 13 Commissioners Court agenda: Decimation of Hope Highway (Tx-249 tollroad), 14 pages of secretive consent agenda, Gann case, and settlement of Precinct 4 overtime claims

Charlie Riley, Commissioner Precinct 2, is responsible for the massive traffic congestion along F.M. 1488, since he diverted the funds that should have gone to widen it to his political contributors’ favored project, the Decimation of Hope Highway (Tx-249 tollroad).

Conroe, June 12 – The Commissioners Court will hold what promises to be a lengthy meeting on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at 9:30 a.m., with an agenda where the Decimation of Hope Highway (Tx-249 tollroad), settlement of the Ricky Gann lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office, and settlement the Precinct 4 Senior Center employees for their overtime claims will dominate the agenda. The vast majority of the County’s business will occur in secrecy through two improper mechanisms: first, there’s a 14 page “consent agenda” which contains millions of dollars of spending which the Commissioners Court won’t discuss in the open; second, the Gann matter and the Precinct 4 overtime matter settlements will likely undergo deliberation behind closed doors in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

While the Decimation of Hope Highway, a $73 million 3.6 mile extension of Tx-249 into a tollroad at the far southwest corner of Montgomery County, will likely be the biggest topic of discussion in the open, the Doyal-led Commissioners Court will leave the audience members sitting in the Commissioners Court room by themselves while the secret deliberations prevail.

Agenda Item 9A1: Consider and approve payment of accounts. Here’s where the Commissioners Court begins to slam the citizens during the meeting.

With $10,197,976.09 of payments and 104 single-spaced pages of expenditures, the five members of Commissioners Court will not review, consider, deliberate, or discuss any of it.

The Decimation of Hope Highway project, the $73 million 3.6 mile tollroad that Doyal and Riley hope to place on Tx-249 at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County, includes payments of $72,534.23 to:

Halff Associates         $53,750.47

Bobby Adams, Doyal’s business partner and best friend Bobby Adams is vice president of this company.

Aguirre & Field          $9,513.24

Linebarger Goggan   $9,090.75

If you’ve wondered why Maris Blair, Chairwoman of Doyal’s fundraiser, is always in Commissioners Court for the discussions of the Decimation of Hope Highway, here’s a small part of your answer.

There are hundreds of thousands of dollars of unreviewed invoices for Halff Associates, Jones & Carter engineers, Klotz engineers, Dannenbaum engineers, and many others.

More than $100,000 of employee credit card charges.

There’s a payment of $15,863 to Shoreline Services out of the Precinct 1 Commissioner Road and Bridge fund.

There’s more than $25,000 of payments for civil indigent defense.

Agenda Item 9A2: Consider and approve Budget Amendments for the Current Fiscal Year.  This item is where the rubber of wasteful spending meets the road of high property taxes. At every Commissioners Court meeting, the Commissioners Court violates the Texas Local Government Code, which mandates two appropriate forms of methods of amending the County’s budget. First, if the Court needs to move approved funds from one spending item to another, they may do so. Second, if there is a genuine “emergency” that constitutes a “grave public necessity” which the Court could not have foreseen, they may spend funds which they didn’t budget.

Here are some of the “emergencies” which the Commissioners Court will declare to spend money:

  • Move $2,500 from capital outlays to vehicle maintenance for the Adult Probate Department.
  • Spend $1,095 for printing and supplies for Animal Control.
  • Spend $18,287 for Building Maintenance to repair and air conditioner.
  • Mike Meador, Commissioner of Precinct 1, seeks to spend $85,257 with the following handwritten explanation:“We cannot claim the sal/ben for the new employees as their expenditures will occur after the grant ends. Therefore, we need to de-obligate these match expenditures.”The money will go into Meador’s slush fund.
  • $168,846 will come from the Commissioner Precinct 4 slush fund.
  • Payoff of compensatory time for County employees in the amount $97,142.13.
  • Spend $237 for Emergency Management’s supplies.
  • Just over $12,000 to fund salaries in the Purchasing Department.

Agenda Item 9c: Purchasing. This agenda item contains four single-spaced contracts for purchasing various items. Although it’s difficult to ascertain the amounts of the contracts, they easily exceed $2 million. It is apparent from review of the contracts that no eyes of the Commissioners Court ever examined these soon-to-be legal obligations of Montgomery County.

Agenda Item 9I1: County Judge – Approve amendment to Agreement between Montgomery County and U.S. ICE/Detention Compliance & Removals to extend period of performance through September 30, 2017. Doyal has already signed and approve this contract modification without any explanation.

Agenda Item 10: Citizen comments concerning items on the agenda. The Court limits citizen comments to 3 minutes while vendors and favored political allies may speak as long as they like.

Agenda Item 12: Chief Deputy Constable Chris Jones and Captain Billy Masden of Constable’s Precinct 5 will present a strategic vision and future goals plan.

Agenda Item 17A: Consider and take action on debt service models for Fiscal Year 2018. Under the pass through toll program, the State of Texas was to reimburse Montgomery County $0.07 per mile driven on certain state roads which the County constructed, such as State Highway 242. Of the original $98 million reimbursement, the State still owes Montgomery County $16.117 million. The question before the Commissioners Court is whether to defease (pay off) the debt with those funds or to spend it.

This point is an important one. What it reveals is that Montgomery County has incurred substantial debt far beyond what the projections of road usage supported for these pass through toll projects. Therefore, despite the State’s reimbursement, after the County has used all of the reimbursement funds from the State, Montgomery County would still be saddled with $33.598 million of unpaid debt.

Agenda Item 17B: Consider and accept self-insurance funding factors for Fiscal Year 2018.

This report from County Auditor Phyllis Martin is quite informative (and depressing).

Employee Medical Coverage. The County will spend $19,997.40 per year per full time employee for medical coverage, which includes $910 per month for medical care, $5.60 per month for life insurance, and $0.85 for the flexible spending fee.

Retiree Medical Coverage. The County will spend $9,500 per retiree for medical coverage. Working for Montgomery County is far more lucrative than working for almost all of the Fortune 500 companies in this respect.

Workers’ Compensation. The County is building a self-insured reserve in the amount of $775,000 per year.

Property & Casualty. The County is building a self-insured reserve in the amount of $1,500,000 per year. Martin has proposed increasing this reserve to $1,582,000 due to “an increase in exposure and liability due to the growth in the County.”

Agenda Item 18: Approve Purchasing contracts.

Hazmat Detection Equipment $57,405.

Tactical surveillance system $186,603.75.

Precinct 4 construction equipment purchase $106,612.

Surveying services with Land Tech surveyors without any bidding or competion. $174,179.

Agenda Item 20A1: Approve two new positions for Mike Meador, Precinct 1 Commissioner. A $55,016 salaried superintendent and a $45,011 salaried foreman. Meador has already hired the two people. Since Doyal, Riley, and Noack have consistently voted against mid-year creation of new positions, it will be interesting to see how far the hypocrisy will go for raw politics.

Agenda Item 20B1: Consider and take action on resolution in support of the 249 tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. This agenda item, from Doyal and Riley, is a pretext to permit their political supporters to speak longer than 3 minutes each in support of the supposedly $73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx-249 extension, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. The idea behind this proposal is to ensure that Doyal’s and Riley’s political supporters receive the funds for this project, since the Texas Department of Transportation would otherwise build the project and not funnel the money to those engineers and contractors. Doyal’s best friend and business partner, Bobby Jack Adams, is vice president of Halff Associates, which has received over $2 million on this horrific waste of Montgomery County resources at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County.

Rich Muller, one of the vendors, has admitted that voters wouldn’t approve of this expenditure. Halff’s James Baker has admitted that Tx-DOT would build the project even if Montgomery County didn’t.

Agenda Item 22A: Executive Session to discuss settlement of Rickey Gann lawsuit against Montgomery County. This case involves a jail inmate, Rickey Gann, who attempted to commit suicide in the jail and is now suing the County for that. The Commissioners Court should disclose to the public what’s happening with this case, as there has been a lot of interest in it. More than likely, the Commissioners Court will deliberate – illegally – inside the Executive Session room and decide what to there as well.

Agenda Item 22B: Executive Session to discuss settlement of the overtime claims by Precinct 4 Senior Center employees. Whether the claims are valid or not, once again, the Commissioners Court should disclose what’s happening in this case. One of the employees who has brought an overtime complaint is the Director of the East Montgomery County Senior Center. Another one of the employees who has brought an overtime complaint is the wife of an elected official. Regardless, the public has the right to know.

Please see “Employees Charge O/T Floccinaucinihilipilification, Clark Disagrees,” The Golden Hammer, January 20, 2017.

 

 

 

 

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