Image: The Citizens Budget Committee presented their report to the Commissioners Court on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Some of the members are in this photograph. Left to right, Ginger Russell, Bob Bagley, Kelli Cook, Bill O’Sullivan, and Reagan Reed. The aggressive citizen activism against Montgomery County government spending and taxation has had a profound impact on County Budgets. Cook, Reed, O’Sullivan, Russell, Bagley, and the remainder of their team, none of whom are elected officials in the Montgomery County government, have made an enormous change in the County government’s spending habits since citizen activism laser-focused on spending issues began in the middle of 2016.
Conroe, July 22 – Citizen activism, which assumed a laser focus on Montgomery County government spending beginning in June, 2016, has had a gigantic impact on the Montgomery County government’s spending habits. An analysis of the horrible era of disgraced former Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal reveals that citizen activists slammed the brakes on Doyal’s plans to increase County government spending vastly during his term.
In the first budget (Fiscal Year 2016) over which Doyal presided as County Judge, he and his free spending cohorts, primarily Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, raised spending a massive amount, 12.81%, if one removes “pass through” expenditures which mask the remainder of government spending. Citizens had barely begun to focus on the County government’s spending by that time.
By Doyal’s next budget, however, Fiscal Year 2017, which began October 1, 2016, citizen activists, especially Kelli Cook of the Campaign for Liberty, Reagan Reed of the Montgomery County Republican Party and Empower Texans, Bill O’Sullivan of the Texas Patriots PAC, Bob Bagley of the Montgomery County Tea Party, and Ginger Russell known as “The Quiet Lady From Magnolia” and many others working with them, had begun their clamor over the failure of the County government to provide a homestead exemption and the massive salaries and salary increases the Montgomery County Commissioners Court rewarded themselves. Doyal, Riley, and Meador clearly began to take notice and only inflicted a 5.36% spending increase, which although massive, was less than the Big Government Doyal and Riley had hoped to spend.
By Fiscal Year 2018, however, which began October 1, 2017, citizens had begun to have a profound impact on the Montgomery County Budget. The Citizens Budget Committee had presented its first detailed budget, which showed greater care for budget analysis than the Commissioners Court, during the June 25, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting. Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack had responded to the Citizens Budget Committee’s work with his call for a five percent (5%) overall spending reduction in the County government, which he later modified only to include non-law enforcement departments.
As a result, the Montgomery County government actually responded to the citizen clamor by lowering spending, adjusted after removing pass through spending accounts, by 6.91% for the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget!!!
Even after Doyal lost re-election in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, the citizens continued to keep the pressure on the County government to keep spending under control. Doyal and his cohorts only passed a 3.17% spending increase, well below the rate of inflation and population growth, for the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget!
In fact, while the Montgomery County Commissioners Court still has a lot of work to do to reduce spending below the effective tax rate for the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget, the hard work of the citizens, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough known and elected in 2018 as “The People’s Judge,” and Noack, has resulted in the chief budget bureaucrat, Budget Director Amanda Carter, proposing a budget that, adjusted for pass through spending, only increases spending by 0.77%.
Citizen activism has had a gigantic impact on County government spending. The Citizens Budget Committee, the Campaign for Liberty, the Texas Patriots PAC, the Montgomery County Tea Party, the Montgomery County Republican Party, Empower Texans, and many others continue their vigilant activism, which seems to be increasing.
Removing the pass through accounts to get the real spending numbers
Doyal and hyper political County Auditor Phyllis Martin, whom the Board of District Judges terminated in 2018, played all sorts of accounting games to mask what they were actually doing with government spending. By the end of Doyal’s term in 2018, neither Doyal nor Martin would communicate with the more active of the citizen activists who worked for spending reductions in the County government.
The most devious game of accounting deception Doyal and Martin perpetrated on Montgomery County citizens involved pass through spending, the spending items contained in the County government which arose under arrangements with other entities, such as private companies or other governmental entities, to reimburse the County government for services.
The largest pass through expenditure item during the past several years in the Montgomery County Budget has been for the contractual services of the Joe Corley Detention Facility which is east of the Montgomery County Jail. Doyal and Martin showed the total expenditures under the Corley contract with Geo Prison Services at $15,800,000.00 in each of the Doyal era County budgets. That was totally false, as new County Auditor Rakesh Pandey and Budget Director Amanda Carter explained to the Commissioners Court during the July 9, 2019, meeting. In fact, Doyal and Martin would increase the total expenditures for the Corley Facility by budget amendments throughout each Fiscal Year, so that total expenditures approached $30,000,000 per year. Geo, however, reimbursed Montgomery County for those services, which is the reason it is a “pass through” expenditure item.
The next two largest pass through expenditure items are the Montgomery County Mental Health Facility, which is approximately $14.8 million of spending each year, and the Woodlands Township Law Enforcement Contract, which is approximately $8 million of “pass through” spending.
This newspaper obtained the list of all pass through accounts in the current Montgomery County Budget and compiled data for pass through spending during the past five County government budgets. After subtracting out all pass through spending the following chart shows the Montgomery County government budgets, adjusted for pass throughs, each Fiscal Year.
The above chart shows the amount of each Fiscal Year’s Budget, the Budget with pass throughs subtracted, and the increase in spending from the previous year’s adjusted budget.
Citizen Activism statistical analysis
The following chart shows Montgomery County inflation, population growth, citizen activism, budget growth, and the financial impact of citizen activist measured as:
CITIZEN ACTIVISM DIFFERENTIAL = Government Spending Increase – (Inflation + Population Growth)
A NEGATIVE NUMBER IS GOOD! IT MEANS CITIZENS EFFECTIVELY REDUCED SPENDING BY AT LEAST THAT PERCENTAGE.
For example, in 2019, inflation plus the County’s population growth totaled 5.3%. Doyal and his spending cohorts increased spending, adjusted with subtraction of the pass through accounts, by only 3.17% from the previous year.
Clearly, citizens began to have an impact on the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, but the impact became gigantic as citizen involvement grew exponentially.
Citizens must clearly increase their involvement to a greater degree, if they are to achieve liberation from the ridiculous tax burden Doyal, Riley, Meador, James Metts, and others have placed on the shoulders of local families.
Kelli Cook, the Campaign for Liberty, and her team delivered the 20% homestead exemption to Montgomery County citizens, despite substantial opposition on the Commissioners Court. The Court finally approved the homestead exemption in 2017.
The Citizens Budget Committee, which continues to enjoy the activism of its original members and is now under the leadership of Chairman Jon Bouche, remains active and vigilant.
Citizens cannot rest, as the Big Government Spenders will sneak up on them. They must remain active and vigilant and recruit new volunteers to the fight.