Conroe, May 3 – When Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and tollroad lawyer Rich Muller of Sugar Land ask the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to vote on approving a resolution or agreement without attaching it to the agenda or the packet given to the members of the Commissioners Court, that’s a clear sign of trouble brewing ahead for the citizens. On Tuesday April 24, 2018, Riley, Doyal, and Meador approved a First Amendment to Reimbursement Agreement between the so-called Montgomery Conty Toll Road Authority (MCTRA) and the Montgomery County government. They never provided a copy of the proposed agreement to Meador or to Commissioners Jim Clark and James Noack.
Noack and Clark voted against the First Amendment. Meador, Riley, and Doyal approved the First Amendment, however. Not surprisingly, Muller misrepresented the nature of the First Amendment to the Commissioners Court and told them the agreement only would “extend the loan from $10,000,000 to $15,000,000.” In other words, the First Amendment forces Montgomery County taxpayers to spend $5,000,000 more on Riley’s and Doyal’s unpopular tollroad project that the Texas Department of Transportation would have built as a free road, using federal highway funds, but for the lobbying of Riley and Doyal in Austin begging TxDOT to build the road as a tollroad rather than a free road.
After the meeting ended, however, The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, made a request under the Texas Open Records Act for a copy of the First Amendment. Doyal’s office dragged their feet as long as possible but eventually had to make the document available to this newspaper.
The First Amendment does, in fact, raise the amount of general revenue tax funds Riley, Doyal, Muller, and Meador are taking for the tollroad by another $5,000,000, for a total of $15,250,000. The First Amendment does not, however, provide any interest rate. For a loan of this nature, at least twelve percent (12%) would seem appropriate, since the taxpayers are having to spend this money by force as a result of three out-of-control public servants.
More significantly, however, Doyal, Riley, and Muller threw in another scam into the First Amendment, which is clearly the reason they didn’t want to show the proposed agreement to the public or the Commissioners Court prior to the vote to approve it.
The First Amendment places the responsibility for all administration of MCTRA on the Montgomery County government! The taxpayers will only receive some undetermined amount of money for providing all of the “accounting, finance, legal, engineering, purchasing, incident management and maintenance services” for MCTRA. Additionally, Doyal, Riley, and Muller have forced “The County…[to agree] to provide, or cause to be provided, such services through the use of County staff, consultants or other parties as the County may determine…”
MCTRA agrees to pay for the services from revenues from the TX 249 Tollway, but there is no price determined for those services other than a vague reference to generally accepted accounting principles.
So, once again, it is the taxpayers of Montgomery County who will bear the risk and the burden of this unpopular tollroad. If the tollroad loses money and is unable to pay for the administrative services the County government is now forced to provide to MCTRA, the taxpayers of Montgomery County will suffer those losses. The way Doyal, Riley, and Muller have structured the deal the bondholders will get paid first. The taxpayers will suffer their losses and have to beg MCTRA for reimbursement for all of the accounting, finance, legal, engineering, purchasing, incident management and maintenance services (for the tollroad!) that they have forced the taxpayers of Montgomery County to provide.
That decision seems like one that they should have brought before the Commissioners Court before the out-of-control lame duck County Judge just signed the First Amendment without showing it to the entire Commissioners Court and the public first.
Once again, the lawyer Muller clearly breached his duty to the Montgomery County government.