Image: The Moment of the Citizens’ Liberation: Former County Judge Alan Sadler administered the Oath of Office to Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough around 10:35 a.m. on Tuesday, January 1, 2019, at which time the reign of terror of his corrupt predecessor (Craig Doyal) ended. The ceremony was at the Lone Star Convention Center in Conroe.
Conroe, January 5 – On the agenda for the Tuesday, January 8, 2019, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, the first of the calendar year, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough – in an historic action – has moved to reduce his own salary by 13.63%, an amount of reduction even larger than what he had promised during his electoral campaign in 2018 for County Judge. Keough’s biweekly salary will lower from the outrageous $6,722.25 to $5,915.95, a more palatable amount (but still radically too high).
Keough is reducing his own annual salary from $174,778.76 to $153.814.70, or by $20,964.06. Keough’s predecessor, the elitist Craig Doyal, had voted to raise his own salary to the $174,778.76 amount on September 5, 2018.
Keough’s Chief of Staff, Jason Millsaps, is also reducing his salary from $4,681.68 biweekly to $4,153.85 biweekly. Millsaps’ reduction in his own salary is 11.19%. Millsaps will receive $108,000.00 per year down from the $121,723.68 which his predecessor, the largely-napping jim fredricks, had taken from the taxpayers.
As part of his “Contract with Montgomery County,” Keough promised in writing among other promises contained therein:
1. ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE SERVANTS OF THE PEOPLE. THEY DO NOT RULE, THEY SERVE.
a. I will promote throughout all levels of Montgomery County Government the essential principle that elected officials and their employees are servants of the people. Serving the citizens is a sacred trust granted to elected officials by those to whom they serve.
2. THE ACTIONS OF ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE TRANSPARENT AND BEYOND REPROACH.
a. I will work to create an environment of transparency that will eliminate the possibility of actual or perceived conflicts of interest.
b. I will end the practice of granting preferential treatment to elected officials and their employees that does not apply to the citizens of this county.
On January 18, 2018, during a candidate forum, which the Montgomery County Eagle Forum sponsored, a citizen asked the two candidates for the Republican nomination for Montgomery County Judge, “If you win the Republican Primary in March and the General Election in November of 2018, what reform leadership can the citizens expect of you with respect to your salary?”
Keough answered, “When I become the Montgomery County Judge on January 1, 2019, my first action will be to place on the Commissioners Court meeting agenda a resolution to cut the salary of the Montgomery County Judge by twelve percent (12%) and then freeze the salary. We must lead by example. I will lower my salary and then freeze it.”
Doyal then answered, “I would leave it where it is. You get what you pay for. I work hard every day. I wouldn’t consider lowering my salary. No, I would not lower my salary.”
If the County Judge and County Commissioners are unable to address the salaries issue, that’s a pretty good indication that they’d fail to address the bloated spending in the Montgomery County government overall. Salaries constitute a whopping 57.4% of the total County government budget, an incredible high figure for payroll in any organization. By reducing their own salaries, the County Judge and Commissioners would then have the moral authority to begin spending reform broadly across the entire County government.
As Montgomery County Judge, the failure Craig Doyal received the third highest salary for a county judge in Texas, only behind Harris and Dallas counties. Montgomery County Commissioners were the highest paid County Commissioners in Texas, according to data from the Texas Association of Counties, as shown above, although now (Fiscal Year 2019, which began October 1, 2018) Harris County Commissioners and Tarrant County Commissioners have raised their salaries even above Montgomery County’s.
Montgomery County Commissioners presently make among the highest salaries in Texas and more than $57,000 per year above the average of County Commissioner salaries for the top 15 counties in Texas. County Judge Craig Doyal’s salary is less than only the Harris County Judge and the Dallas County Judge. The County Judges in Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, Hidalgo, El Paso, Denton, and Fort Bend counties all make substantially less than Doyal, even though those counties are quite a bit larger than Montgomery County. The counties to which Montgomery County is usually compared – Collin, Denton, Fort Bend, and Williamson – all have county judges and county commissioners who make a lot less in salaries than the out-of-control Montgomery County government.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in Montgomery County is $71,123. That means that the County Judge and County Commissioners make more than twice what the typical entire families earn, which, of course, might explain why they’re so out of touch with the concerns of the citizens.
Doyal and the Montgomery County Commissioners have claimed a higher salary than the Governor of Texas ($150,000 per year) and the Texas Attorney General ($150,000 per year). In contrast, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton supervises over 4,000 employees, in eighteen divisions. Doyal supervises a staff of three while the County Commissioners each supervise approximately 20 people in their departments.
All of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court salary increases appear to constitute little more than “money grabs,” because there is no reason to them whatsoever. Even when a Salary Study Committee, which former County Human Resources Director Diane Bass chaired, recommended no salary increases in August, 2016, because the salaries were already way too high, the Commissioners Court voted unanimously to give themselves a 3.00% pay raise.
The Citizens Budget Committee presented a Salary Survey, based upon County Commissioner compensation in other counties, to the Commissioners Court on May 8, 2018. The Committee recommended that County Commissioner salaries in Montgomery County should be no higher than $121,772.
The new salaries that the County Commissioners Court awarded themselves on July 27, 2018, brought their salaries to $23,872 higher than the $150,000 salary of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the same salary that Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, receives. Abbott, of course, receives some benefits, however, such as use of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin.
The taxpayers had no say in the County Commissioners’ decision, because Doyal and the County Commissioners disallowed citizens from speaking or participating in the so-called “budget workshop” at the end of which they voted themselves the pay raise.
The decision was unanimous among Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, and Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack. Precinct 4 County Commissioner was ill and did not participate in the vote.
They exercised great care to award themselves a 3% raise over and above their already bloated salaries.
Despite the tough times that private employees are facing as far as wages and compensation at the present time, the Commissioners Court awarded themselves each $5,064 raises to salaries of $173,872 per year. With benefits, each County Commissioner will force the taxpayers to pay them $243,942.42 in total compensation annually. They raised their salaries simply because they had the power to do so.
Keough and Millsaps have begun to show the conservative leadership for which conservative Montgomery County has hungered for a long time.