Don’t feel good; Montgomery County Commissioners Court faces last day of budget workshop without any fiscal restraint

The most dangerous room in Montgomery County on Funerary Friday, July 27, 2018, when the Montgomery County Commissioners Court meets to sort out the mess of a budget situation they’ve created and to adopt a tax rate. Please hold your wallets very tightly.

Conroe, July 27 – The most dangerous room in Montgomery County, Texas, on Funerary Friday, July 27, 2018, will be the Montgomery County Commissioners Courtroom where County Judge Craig Doyal and his cohorts have failed to examine the efficiency or waste of any County government operations since last year when they went through the same ritual. While brand new Budget Office Director has actually shown that she is knowledgeable about the numbers behind the Montgomery County government, neither she, the County Judge, nor the Commissioners Court has taken any action (1) to conduct zero-based budgeting to see what expenditures are necessary for each department’s program goals, (2) to assess each department’s program goals, or (3) to determine whether department practices are wasteful.

An excellent example is the expenditure of the Memorial Library Department, which operates the libraries as though the year were 1975. The County’s taxpayers spend $960,000 per year on periodical subscriptions when electronic databases, which have far more periodicals available than the paper subscriptions to which the outdated library subscribes, would be enormously less expensive (almost by two orders of magnitude). No one in the County government examines such issues. Rather, they just accept the antiquated practices of the Library Director based upon face value.

Of course, the Library Director will fight for more money for her Library Department. She has no incentive whatsoever to watch the pennies and nickels as they fly out of the taxpayers pockets.

Comparison table showing (1) current Fiscal Year 2018 adopted budget for Montgomery County government, (2) requested departmental budgets for Fiscal Year 2019, (3) the Budget Office’s Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, and (4) the Citizens Budget Committee recommendation for the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget.

The Commissioners Court budget workshops have had the look and feel of Santa’s chair at the department store during the Christmas season. The department directors come before the Court, tell them what a great job they’re doing, and then ask for a lot more money in a list of programs.

What’s frightening is that the Commissioners Court will gather today, Funerary Friday, at 9 a.m., in the Commissioners Court to decide which wish list items they care to dispense to the demanding County Department children. Other than the Sheriff’s Office, the Precinct 3 Commissioner, and one or two other departments, none of the Department Directors have shown any fiscal restraint. The Sheriff’s Office’s budget proposal was quite unique, because Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Finance Director Carol Thompson and Sheriff Rand Henderson went their a partial zero-based budget exercise for the entire Department, which happens to be the largest in the County government. Sadly, other than Noack, none of the Court members even looked at the Sheriff’s Office zero-based budget notebook.

What is their real budget methodology? Just add to the previous year’s budget for every department. That’s why the spending growth in the Montgomery County government has grown faster than even the federal government during the past two decades. Craig Doyal, Charlie Riley, and Mike Meador make B. Hussein Obama look like a fiscal conservative.

Since there is no control on spending increases, the fact the Budget Office Director actually proposed higher spending bodes very poorly for Montgomery County taxpayers. Carter recommended an $8 million in increase in spending over the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.

Tax projections from Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae.

The tax projections from Montgomery Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae present a frightening picture in light of Carter’s proposed expenditure increase of $8 million from last year. Since property tax collections have only risen $4 million between Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2019, if the Commissioners Court really were to spend as wastefully as the Budget Office Director has proposed, the citizens of Montgomery County would face a tax rate increase!

Where Carter, in her short tenure, has already failed County taxpayers is that she has not recommended program spending cuts that could occur without reductions in services. That’s where Carter and the Commissioners Court should have looked to the Citizens Budget Committee report, an occurrence that will never happen due to the arrogance and pride of Doyal, Riley, and Meador.

And that is precisely where Friday, July 27, is so frightening that the name “Funerary Friday” applies. Doyal, Riley, and Meador have shown no political fortitude whatsoever. They’ve never shown an ability to reduce expenditures. That’s why the citizens of Montgomery County – gulp (!) – face the prospect that the free spenders will actually raise taxes rather than performing their job duties which require them to manage the business of Montgomery County’s government.

 

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