County government finally releases proposed budget to spend $344 million which is 5% increase over last year, defies transparency or meaningful deliberation

County government finally releases proposed budget to spend $344 million which is 5% increase over last year, defies transparency or meaningful deliberation

Conroe, August 30 – Playing the same games with the taxpayers’ money as last year, the Montgomery County government waited until the last possible day, August 30, 2018, to file the “Proposed Budget” for Fiscal Year 2019, which will involve spending more than $344 million, a 4.8% increase in one year. The proposed spending increase, which is higher than the annual spending increase for the United States Government, the Texas State Government, or any other County government in Texas (at least as of press time), would make liberals B. Hussein Obama or Sheila Jackson Lee jealous of the financial games which Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner play.

What is unbelievable about the Proposed Budget is that it results from a process that is really no process at all. No one inside the Montgomery County government conducted any detailed review of all County government departments to determine whether their baseline budgets from Fiscal Year 2018 were higher than necessary. No one within the County government examined whether there was any spending that was wasteful or unnecessary. Rather, the entire process consisted of two parts: (1) the Commissioners Court examined wish lists from each County Department for increased spending and granted portions of those wish lists, and (2) in a closing day maneuver that was obvious it would occur since July 27, 2017, on July 28, 2018, Noack led the Commissioners Court to give themselves 3% raises over and above their already bloated salaries through the pretext of an across-the-board salary increase for all County employees (rather than the lower level employees who were the only ones deserving of cost-of-living increases).

Throughout the so-called “budget process,” County Judge Doyal, Commissioner Noack, “chief of staff” jim fredricks, and Budget Office Director Amanda Carter took special care to lock out citizen input:

  • Doyal and his colleagues on the Commissioners Court refused to hear the Citizens Budget Committee Report, even though Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark had placed the Report on the Commissioners Court Agenda;
  • Carter assured the citizens she’d file a full budget by Tuesday, July 31, but, instead, hid the Proposed Budget from public view until August 30, 2018, the absolute latest she could wait to made it available for public view;
  • Doyal and the Commissioners Court refused citizen input during the budget workshop; and
  • Even the members of the Commissioners Court have never actually deliberated on each department budget in any meaningful manner, but only made “consensus” comments about the departments’ increased spending wish lists.

Like last year, the Fiscal 2019 Proposed Budget will be $344,381,573, and will undoubtedly have hundreds of “budget amendments” which defy required procedures for budget amendments under the Texas Local Government Code. Last year’s adopted Fiscal Year 2018 Budget was $328,554,551, but with budget amendments it has already grown to $367,058,065. In other words, 11.7% of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, as amended, was adopted and spent in direct violation of the Texas Local Government Code. That’s not surprising in Montgomery County, the most corrupt County government in all of Texas.

Of 80 County Departments, 76 will have substantially higher budgets for Fiscal Year 2019. The four departments with reduced budgets include the Sheriff’s Office, which took a substantial reduction, and the Drug Court-DWI Court, Risk Management, and the Precinct 3 Commissioner. Noack’s office voluntarily took a 0.34% reduction, totaling $19,152.

The County Auditor’s Budget might appear to be less, but, in actuality, is substantially higher. The formal County Auditor Department budget is $2,185,085, a reduction in $75,469 from Fiscal Year 2018. It’s actually an increase, however, because the County Auditor Department no longer handles the budgeting function for Montgomery County. The new Budget Office’s budget for Fiscal Year 2019 is $309,961, meaning the taxpayers are actually suffering a $234,492 increase in the Auditor/Budget area of spending. Such an increase is directly contrary to the promises and assurance that Doyal and Noack made on September 5, 2017, when they created the Budget Office and openly promised they’d reduce the County Auditor’s Budget by at least the amount of the cost of the Budget Office.

Under the Proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Budget, the County government’s debt service will increase from $35,182,916 in Fiscal Year 2018 to $37,710,678 in Fiscal Year 2019.

For comparison purposes, here are the three critical budget numbers, citizens should note:

  • Fiscal Year 2019 Proposed Budget = $344,381,573 (highest governmental expenditure budget in the history of Montgomery County)
  • Fiscal Year 2018 Adopted Budget = $328,554,551
  • Citizens Budget Committee “Fairness to Taxpayers Budget” = $311,173,618.

The Citizens Budget Committee’s proposed “Fairness to Taxpayers Budget” included increases for law enforcement departments that are higher than the Doyal-Noack-Carter Proposed Budget, no reductions in services, but substantial reductions in wasteful spending. Of course, Doyal and the Commissioners Court took extra efforts to ignore the Citizens Budget Committee, which had actually put substantially greater time into preparing a proposed budget than did the haphazard County Commissioners Court.

 

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