The Woodlands, June 6 – Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack (R-The Woodlands) proposed substantial spending reductions for his Precinct 3 Commissioner’s Department in order to show leadership for the upcoming consideration of the County’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. “I wanted to show leadership for other County Departments by demonstrating that I could and would make spending reductions in my own department,” Noack told The Golden Hammer.
Noack has proposed a 6.8% reduction in the Commissioner Precinct 3 2018 Budget Request. The adopted budget for Fiscal Year 2017 for his Department was $5,559,780. Noack is proposing a $5,183,809 budget for Fiscal Year 2018, or a reduction of $375,971.
The Commissioner Precinct 3 has 37 positions during this fiscal year, but Noack has proposed closing two positions for a salary savings of $67,989.89. Noack is making substantial deductions in his overtime budget in the amount of 20%. Noack explained to a Citizens Budget Committee meeting, “We have emergencies in a Commissioner Precinct arising from road problems that occur. Through careful management of personnel, we’ve studied our usage of employees and have determined better ways to deploy personnel throughout each week in order to achieve substantial savings.” Between salaries and employee benefits, Noack has proposed a reduction in $115,932.
The Budget for Precinct 3, as proposed, would also go down by $144,514 for materials, supplies, and fuel. Noack has reduced the Commissioner Precinct 3 fuel costs by more than 30% since 2016, partly thanks to lower fuel prices but also from efficiencies in Noack and Operations Manager’s Matthew Beasley’s management practices.
Noack has also proposed to reduce the department’s use of outside services by $48,000 and capital outlays y $67,273.
The Budget and Spending; Variety of Proposals
Several County departments have still failed to submit proposed budgets, which were due to County Auditor Phyllis Martin approximately six weeks ago.
The leadership within the County has taken starkly different approaches to the upcoming budget discussions.
The County government’s spending has exploded by 428% since 2000, while population growth has only been 84% during that same time period. Under Craig Doyal as County Judge, the spending increases have continued at the same steady pace. Doyal has contended the “fiscally conservative” spending growth falls within a “ceiling” of the population growth rate plus the inflation rate. Since 2010 alone, Doyal and the Commissioners Court have adopted spending budgets that exceed the population growth plus the inflation rate by $54 million.
Noack has proposed across-the-board spending cuts of 5% in all County departments. Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark agrees but he’s taken care to exclude law enforcement departments from the cuts.
Doyal has suggested that he doesn’t want to reduce spending at all but would hold salaries to the level they are presently, after Doyal and the Commissioners Court voted themselves 3% pay raises last year in contravention of the recommendation of the Salary Study Committee, which recommended holding elected official salaries at 2016 levels.
The Citizens Budget Committee will present its report later this month after going through every single line in the Montgomery County Government Budget. The Committee has targeted to reduce County spending by $100 million but putting approximately half of those savings ($20 million) into law enforcement, which the Commissioners Court has underfunded for several years, and half of those savings into a road-and-bridge/capital improvement fund, for a net spending reduction of $60 million.