Conroe, June 12 – Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley received “The Golden Hammer Award” at the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. “The Golden Hammer Award” goes to a public servant for wasting tax funds and “hammering the taxpayers.”
Riley received the dubious distinction for wasting almost $1.2 million of general revenue taxpayer funds on the Decimation of Hope Highway, the 3.1 million, $95 million tollroad, which widens TX 249 and extends it into undeveloped pastureland. The Decimation of Hope Highway is one of the most expensive road projects in American history as a result of the poor oversight and management of the construction by Riley and disgraced former County Judge Craig Doyal.
Riley has repeatedly promised during the past three years that no funds from the County government’s general funds would go into his disastrous tollroad project without reimbursement to the general fund with fair market interest. Sadly, Riley’s repeated promises were little more than “mouthing off.”
Riley earned “The Golden Hammer Award” yesterday through three categories of expenditures for which Montgomery County taxpayers paid and for which Riley and his “Montgomery County Toll Road Authority,” also known as “MCTRA,” a moniker for the Commissioners Court pretending to be something else, have failed to reimburse the taxpayers.
Category #1 of Stolen General Revenue Funds – $44,650.00 – Unreimbursed Contract Payment
On February 9, 2015, MCTRA borrowed $10,000,000 from Montgomery County taxpayers with the promise to reimburse the general fund from which those dollars came. On June 19, 2012, however, Doyal and Riley took $44,650.00 for their Precinct 2 budget in order to pay those funds to Halff Associates, Inc., for preliminary engineering for a project feasibility evaluation for the Decimation of Hope Highway.
Neither Doyal, who was the Precinct 2 County Commissioner at the time, Riley, who was the Precinct 2 Operations Manager, nor MCTRA ever reimbursed County taxpayers for the $44,650.00 paid to the engineering firm of Doyal’s best friend Bobby Jack Adams, who is also a major political contributor to Riley.
Montgomery County taxpayers paid for a tollroad project for which bondholders now have a first lien. The County government just lost those funds, although there are easily sufficient funds in the MCTRA bank account to make the reimbursement.
Category #2 of Stolen General Revenue Funds – $990,662.00 – Woodlands Parkway Extension funds spend to support 2014 traffic and revenue study for TX 249 Tollway project
Riley and Doyal spent $990,662.00 on the Woodlands Parkway Extension project before voters rejected that project in the May, 2015, road bond referendum. Now, Riley claims that neither he nor the County government ever intend to extend Woodlands Parkway.
The primary reason for extending Woodlands Parkway westward from its present terminus at F.M. 2978 was to support the “traffic and revenue” study in 2014 to support the financing of the Decimation of Hope Highway. The 2014 “T&R” study listed as one of its assumptions that Woodlands Parkway Extension would be complete and bring substantial traffic to the TX 249 Tollway.
The Woodlands Parkway Extension never proceeded after voters soundly rejected the proposal.
Nevertheless, Riley and Doyal had expended the $990,662.00 of funds on engineering studies, right-of-way acquisition, and even relocation expenses for individuals and businesses along the path of the unpopular project.
Every penny of that $990,662.00 expenditure was to support the dreams of Riley and Doyal to bring traffic to TX 249 to boost toll revenue. As early as November 20, 2008, seven years before the bond referendum, through October 9, 2014, a mere seven months before the County government’s failed election, Doyal and Riley led Montgomery County taxpayers to spend at least $990,662 on the Woodlands Parkway Extension project.
Category #3 of Stolen General Revenue Funds – Unpaid interest on at least $425,000 of the loan to MCTRA
Riley assured the public repeatedly in speeches during the Commissioners Court and to constituents in Precinct 2 that all reimbursed funds would bear interest at a “fair market rate.”
When MCTRA paid the $425,000 back to County taxpayers for the 2014 “T&R” study, however, the repayment included no interest whatsoever. Even with the loan merely at the Prime Rate of interest at 5.50%, taxpayers should have received approximately $128,562.50.
Once again, Riley and Doyal took the taxpayers’ money and failed to pay it back under the promised terms.
Total theft = $1,163.874.50
Riley, Doyal, and MCTRA took $1,163,874.50 in general revenue funds, but failed to pay the money back.
Riley should arrange to pay all of those funds out of MCTRA’s huge bank account (from State Highway 242 flyover tolls) into the County government’s general fund.
In the meantime, Riley received “The Golden Hammer Award” for creating this financial mess.