Conroe, January 20 – County Engineer Mark Mooney admitted on Tuesday, January 17, that he “is not in possession of any of the” road contracts between Montgomery County on the one hand and Halff Associates, Inc., Dannenbaum Engineering, and Binkley and Barfield, Inc., three of the primary road engineering firms that provide engineering services to the County. Mooney made the admission in response to a Public Information Act request made to his office on Friday, January 13.
Mooney is the county road engineer with statutory duties under the Texas Transportation Code to oversee and supervise the construction of roads in Montgomery County. Mooney earns $162,064.26 in salary per year, although he is frequently absent from his office. Several county officials have confirmed that Mooney regularly plays golf with County Judge Craig Doyal and spends substantial time at Commissioner Mike Meador’s deer lease.
On Thursday, December 29, 2016, the Publisher of The Golden Hammer sought information from Mooney’s official Office of the County Engineer concerning the status of the $280 million of road projects which voters approved in the November 2015 bond referendum. Assistant County Engineer Ross McCall confirmed that the County Engineer’s Office has no involvement in overseeing any of the road bond projects.
The County Engineering Department has fifteen employees who receive a total of $1,329,174.34 in salaries (not including county benefits). Five of the County Engineer’s employees receive over $100,000 per year in salaries. One of the six registered professional engineers in the office, Jay Chapman, earns $91,237.32, which is slightly less salary than earned by the unlicensed Craig Case, who is the son of Building Maintenance Department Director Paul Case. Craig Case receives a salary of $91,706.77 within the Engineering Department budget, although his business card shows that he works out of the office of the Building Maintenance Department for his father.
In response to another Public Information Act request, The Golden Hammer obtained the vendor payment history of John C. Holzwarth, a private engineer who contributes several thousand dollars per year to County Judge Craig Doyal and Commissioners Mike Meador, Charlie Riley, and Jim Clark. In return, Holzwarth has received contracts to act as the “on-call” road engineer overseeing all road projects in Montgomery County. Since January, 2010, Holzwarth has receive payments from Montgomery County in the amount of $1,366,424.57 at his hourly rate of $200 per hour. During the current Fiscal Year, which began October 1, 2016, Holzwarth has already received $91,922.92 in payments, even though less than a quarter of the Fiscal Year has elapsed. Holzwarth is a close friend and associate of Meador.
Commissioner James Noack has refused to utilize the services of Holzwarth who, in return, does not contribute to Noack’s campaigns. County citizens should not view approved road bond funds or projects as sacrosanct, because the County Judge and Commissioners Court continue to engage in substantial mismanagement of the road funds, while the County Engineer has failed to perform his duties of oversight and supervision.