Commissioners Court rejects on-site detention requirement in development standards, spends ton of money

Montgomery County Engineer Jeff Johnson was embarrassingly unpersuasive in his remarks before the Commissioners Court about on-site detention of water during the August 27, 2019, meeting.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, September 30 – After longtime civil engineer David Vogt criticized Montgomery County Engineer Jeff Johnson for his failure to consult with the engineering community before proposing new development standards for Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to reject Johnson’s proposal to require onsite detention of water in new real estate developments. “You’ve got to make sure you don’t increase the peak flow of water by detaining it in the watershed” on a project by project basis, Vogt argued.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said during the discussion, “I don’t think there’s anyone up here who doesn’t want to solve the problem of drainage and flooding.” Keough argued that the Commissioners Court should wait for the results of the two studies on drainage and detention after the Harvey storm, which the San Jacinto River Authority, the Harris County Flood Control District, the County government, the City of Conroe, and the City of Houston are conducting to determine the cause of flooding and to find solutions. Keough said during the meeting that he anticipates the results of that study will likely be available by the end of 2020 at the earliest.

Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley agreed, “I think we need to wait on the study.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador acknowledged that “people who are doing this [proposed change in the development standards] are doing this for the right reasons, but we need to wait on the studies.”

Bizarre Toll Road Authority Vote

At the conclusion of the Commissioners Court meeting, they voted to increase spending on the Decimation of Hope Highway, the $95 million, 3.1 mile, tollroad extension of TX 249, which will be the most expensive highway in American history if they ever complete it.  Keough and Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack voted against the additional $151,728.97 expenditure on the disastrous tollroad project.

Ratings explained

The Golden Hammer‘s rating system follows the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas.

The Golden Hammer‘s ratings measure Commissioners Court votes that affect spending in comparison to the provisions of the Republican Party of Texas Platform. Points are good. The number of points depends upon the amount of money involved in each vote.

The Commissioners Court, all of whom claim to be Republicans, violated the Republican Party Platform on almost every vote during the August 13 meeting. They violated Plank 144 in particular, which provides:

“144. Government Spending: Government Spending is out of control at the federal, state, and local levels, and action is needed.”

The editorial staff of this newspaper sincerely hopes that Plank 144 is simple enough that even the members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court might understand it.

Commissioners Court meeting, August 27, 2019, 9:30 a.m. All Court members were physically present.

The votes

Vote #1. Voted to reject proposed development standards change to require real estate developers to have onsite detention on all projects. The engineering and development community opposed the proposal staunchly. The idea may be appropriate for some projects, but an across-the-board requirement seems like unnecessary government regulation. Major issue. 25 points. “Yes” vote appropriate to reject standards. Passed unanimously.

Vote #2. Add $151,728.97 to cost of Decimation of Hope Highway construction project in the form of a Change Order to SpawGlass Civil Construction, Inc. Major issue. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed three (Riley, Meador, Metts) to two (Keough, Noack).

Vote #3. $3.75 million of budget amendments covering 48 County Departments. Several of the amendments move funds from Fiscal Year 2019 into departmental slush funds, i.e., “carryover” accounts. Meador moved $426,000 out of his slush fund so that he could spend the funds.

Major vote. 25 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.

Vote #4 to 18. Blind approval of 15 purchasing contracts totaling over $2.2 million. There was no review whatsoever for the pricing or the contract terms. 25 points x 15! “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously (15 times).

Vote #19. Nominate Peggy Hausmann as a candidate for the policy-making Board of Directors of the Montgomery Central Appraisal District. Major vote. 25 points. Passed unanimously. “Yes” vote appropriate.

While not a rated vote, there was a discussion of changing the Budget Policy for Fiscal Year 2020. Budget Director Amanda Carter made the comment, “We’ve been putting a lot of things from the general fund into the Commissioners Budgets. We need to set a new policy so the budget is not totally out of wack when we start the budget next year.”

Vote #20. The Information Technology department asked for $67,222.27 for funding a new Video Management Software Technician to be funded from the Precinct 4 Commissioner’s Budget. “No” vote appropriate. 10 points. Passed unanimously.

Vote #21. $10,180,729.39 Payment of Accounts with no oversight from the Commissioners Court whatsoever.

Included $21,185.13 paid to Graves Humphries law firm for doing nothing and costing the taxpayers a fortune in fees and fines collections.

Also included $1,500 paid as a criminal defense lawyer to John Pettit, the pro-government Big Spending lawyer who represented Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Wally Wilkerson in the hearing where the Republican Party of Texas Official Committee determined Wilkerson had acted to “disgrace” the Republican Party.

Major vote. 25 points. Should vote “no.” Passed unanimously.

Vote #22. Approve payroll changes without any review. 5 points. “No” vote appropriate. Passed unanimously.

Ratings for Commissioners Court meeting, August 27, 2019:

KEOUGH 75/515. Grade F.

MEADOR 50/515. Grade F.

RILEY 50/515. Grade F.

NOACK 75/515. Grade F.

METTS 50/515. Grade F.

The following are the cumulative scores for Fiscal Year 2019, which began October 1, 2018.

KEOUGH 7,568/7,681. Grade A.

MEADOR 1,833/7,995. Grade F.

RILEY 88/7,995. Grade F.

NOACK 7,213/7,995. Grade A-.

METTS 2,508/7,681. Grade F.

The citizens must remain vigilant.

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