Image: Montgomery Central Appraisal District Directors Mike Meador, who is also Precinct 1 County Commissioner, and Ed Chance, former Precinct 3 County Commissioner.
Conroe, June 29 – At the Tuesday, June 27, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting, Mike Meador, who is both a Montgomery Central Appraisal District (MCAD) Director and Precinct 1 County Commissioner, and Charlie Riley, who is both an MCAD Director and Precinct 2 County Commissioner, claimed utter befuddlement regarding MCAD’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, although somehow they did seem to understand that they had conflicts of interest since they serve on both the Commissioners Court and the MCAD Board of Directors.
The MCAD Budget
MCAD issued its proposed Budget package to every taxing jurisdiction in Montgomery County, including the Montgomery County government on June 12, 2017. As Chief Appraiser Mark Casteschouldt explained, a Board of Directors Commission conducted a budget worship. The proposed Budget came under a page with the Board of Directors’ names on it, which included Riley and Meador.
The Montgomery County government issued the Commissioners Court Agenda on Friday, June 23, 2017, at 3:23 p.m. The Agenda, made public at that time, included the entire MCAD Budget package with it available to the public as well as to Riley and Meador on that afternoon.
Riley’s interesting comments
During the Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, June 27, Riley said, “I got a copy of this budget yesterday [Monday, June 26], for the first time, and there is no way I can approve what I’m looking at, and I won’t approve [this budget proposal].” Riley’s statement was incorrect, because, actually, as an MCAD Board of Directors member, he actually was part of issuing the Budget on June 12, fifteen (15) days earlier. Furthermore, Riley could have reviewed the MCAD Budget proposal for four (4) days prior to the June 27 meeting as could the entire general public of the entire world.
In a press release on Wednesday, June 28, Riley stated,
“He [Riley] spoke with Representative Cecil Bell, before court, and requested that he give attention to the mandates handed down from the State of Texas which drive up Appraisal District costs. One of the few duties of the Appraisal Board is to approve budgets for the appraisal district (the Board does not control home appraisal outcomes). Commissioner Riley hopes that his service on the board can be a benefit to this community by rejecting bloated budget proposal increases such as this.”
Riley’s press release, while a clear attempt at revisionist history, is factually incorrect, because:
- As a Board of Directors member, Riley is responsible for managing the budget of the MCAD. He cannot blame Representative Cecil Bell, the Texas Legislature, or the State of Texas for his failures to manage the MCAD.
- Riley incorrectly stated that “the Board does not control home appraisal outcomes.”Riley in particular seems to want to hide behind the contention that he’s merely a Board member of the five-person Board of Directors of MCAD, and that it’s the appraisers, i.e., the staff whom citizen-taxpayers should blame. Legally, that argument just isn’t true.
Kris Allfrey, a Missouri City political activist and certified paralegal who has worked for appraisal district reform among other issues, has explained, “The County Appraisal District Board Members are nominated by and voted in by the taxing entities in the County. The CAD Board then hires the Chief Appraiser and he reports to the Board who in turn reports to the very taxing entities that put them on the board. The State does not appraise your property. The State does not set the tax rate for the taxing entities.”
In fact, Section 25.18 of the Texas Tax Code makes the members of the Board of Directors responsible for setting the policy for the manner in which the MCAD conducts periodic reappraisals of property. The Board of Directors, not the Chief Appraiser and not the staff, must identify and update the relevant characteristics of properties as well as legal and economic attributes that should impact reappraisals.
As a Board member, Riley directly controls home appraisal outcomes by setting the policy for reappraisals of property, pursuant to Section 25.18 o the Texas Tax Code.
- Riley stated that he “hopes his service on the board can be a benefit to this community…” Riley’s comment makes no sense. He is part of the Board of Directors that put forward the “bloated budget proposal increase.” Does Riley believe that the citizens are so stupid that we can’t figure out that this proposed Budget came, in part, from Riley and Meador?
Understanding conflicts of interest
Remarkably, both Meador and Riley admitted that they would have to recuse themselves from the Tuesday Commissioners Court vote whether to approve to disapprove Meador’s, Riley’s, and their MCAD Board colleagues’ proposed MCAD Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. Meador and Riley made clear that they would not vote one way or the other, because of their conflict of sitting on the MCAD Board.
That begs a question then: since Meador and Riley sit on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, which has borrowed $13 million from the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, shouldn’t they recuse themselves from any votes concerning the Tx-249 tollway, also known as the Tx-249 Taxway, the Decimation of Hope Highway, and the $73 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 extension?
It seems that Riley and Meador didn’t want to fade the political heat from their “bloated budget proposal increase” for MCAD which emanated from the MCAD Board of Directors on which they sit. Therefore, they claimed they had a conflict of interest but also claimed that they criticized the very MCAD budget which came from them. Nevertheless, since they desperately want to funnel $73 million to their favorite political contributors for the Tx-249 Taxway, somehow they can’t find a conflict of interest there.