Conroe, March 20 – The Citizens Budget Committee’s new Chairman, Jon Paul Bouche, called the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to reduce County government spending by one percent (1%) in the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget during the Tuesday, March 19, 2019, Commissioners Court meeting. Bouche, who is a Republican Precinct Chairman, member of the Montgomery County Republican Party Steering Committee, and Director of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, asked Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough and the four Commissioners to reduce County government spending by $3,443,815 to $340,937,757 for FY 2020.
Bouche explained, “The members of our Commissioners Court often tell us how they are the experts in County government operations. The Citizens Budget Committee, therefore, takes them at their word. Since they’re the experts, we’re leaving the specific spending reductions to them to figure out and implement.”
Bouche’s entire speech to the Commissioners Court follows:
Good morning. My name is Jon Paul Bouché and I live in the City of Oak Ridge North which is in Commissioners Precinct 3. I am here today to talk about government spending,
I know that Senator Brandon Creighton and former State Representative Mark Keough have both said that “statewide property tax reform” will come through the Texas Legislature, but “property tax RELIEF” will have to come from reduced government spending by local governments, and I believe that this is true.
Because I really wanted to get a better understanding of how our budget process works and where our tax dollars are being spent, I joined the Citizens Budget Committee and during the past two years, our Committee has suggested detailed proposals of how to reduce spending, but those proposals were aspirational. The reality is this…you were elected and your constituents are counting on you to be the experts on how to run our County government responsibly. We are all relying on you to do just that.
I recall that former County Judge Craig Doyal said that government spending shouldn’t increase by more than inflation plus population growth.
Since 2010, the population growth of Montgomery County has been 25.27% and during that same period, inflation has been a total of 15.7%.
So, following this formula, this means that local government spending since 2010 should not have increased by more than 40.97%.
Unfortunately, our County government spending has grown 61.67% during this same period, which means that our current budget is about $44 million larger this year than it should be.
The truth is that since 2010, Montgomery County’s government spending has consistently grown faster than most of the top 20 largest counties in Texas, yet we are NOT the largest county nor are we the fastest growing of those counties.
So we are requesting that you approach the FY 2020 Budget with a goal of reducing County government spending by a mere one percent (1%), for a total FY 2020 budget of $340,937,757. [Publisher’s note: That’s a spending reduction of $3,443,816 from the current budget of $344,381,573.]
We also request that you reduce the tax rate accordingly to offset appraisal growth so that this provides some real relief for your constituents. We have no idea what if anything is going to happen in this legislative session in Austin, so we must take action locally and that is what we are asking you to do.
I will commit to you today that our committee will also approach other local taxing authorities with the same request. In fact, at this very moment, several of us are putting pressure on the CISD Board to be more transparent about this $807 MILLION dollar bond that, if passed, will push their bond debt to about $2 BILLION dollars. Some of us just think that, when a School District’s accumulated bond debt exceeds the GDP of several small nations, it deserves a closer look.
I believe that by committing to make even this 1% spending cut, this Republican-led body has a great opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to responsible local government and to be an example to other municipal government entities all across the Great State of Texas.
Obviously, Bouche’s speech inspired people in the room. A few moments after Bouche spoke, new Montgomery County Attorney B.D. Griffin announced he was unilaterally reducing his own salary in dramatic fashion.