Conroe, February 14 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to approve a property tax exemption on 10% of the value of all homesteads, but it was a tough road to get to that point. The exemption discussion between with a study by political activist Kelli Cook and an article that appeared on January 27 providing more detail in The Golden Hammer newspaper, Montgomery County’s leading and most influential newspaper, concerning the failure of Montgomery County to provide the maximum 20% property tax homestead exemption. Both Harris County, a Democrat stronghold, and Fort Bend County, a community almost as conservative and Republican as Montgomery County, provide the maximum exemption to taxpayers.
On January 30, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack called for the full twenty percent (20%) homestead exemption. Noack’s press release challenged County Judge Craig Doyal’s plans to continue the massive County government spending growth, which he has promoted and overseen.
In response to Noack’s demands for property tax relief for County residents, Doyal issued a press release of his own on February 1 in which he called for higher County government spending, claimed that more spending was somehow “fiscally conservative,” and stated he supported only a five percent (5%) homestead exemption, since any higher amount would interfere with his hopes for move government spending.
Commissioner Noack and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark placed a proposed twenty percent (20%) homestead exemption on the February 14, 2017, Commissioners Court Agenda, over Doyal’s objections.
A mob of citizens appeared at the Commissioners Court on February 14 to make citizen comments in favor of the maximum homestead exemption, including Cook, Walter West, II, Misty O’Dwyer, John Nicks, John Wertz, Bobby Jolley, Ellis Countze, Eric Yollick, Reagan Reed, Dale Fessenden, Bill O’Sullivan, Earl Johnson, Calvin Powell, and former State Representative Steve Toth, among several others. Approximately two dozen other citizens attended the Court session to support the full 20% homestead exemption without speaking during the Citizen Comment period.
At the request of Commissioner Noack, County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae made a presentation with financial projections related to the proposed homestead exemption. McRae stated that “As a taxpayer, I’d like the full 20% homestead exemption.”
Later during the meeting, Noack moved to adopt the full twenty percent (20%) exemption and Clark seconded his motion. Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador spoke against the homestead exemption. The motion for a twenty percent (20%) homestead exemption failed on a 2 to 3 vote.
Noack then moved for the Commissioners Court to adopt a ten percent (10%) homestead exemption instead. Doyal reluctantly agreed in the face of the angry mob. The Commissioners voted 5 to 0 to adopt a ten percent (10%) homestead exemption for Fiscal Year 2018.
Later during the afternoon of Tuesday, February 14, 2017, Doyal issued a press release in which he failed to mention either Noack or Clark and in which he attempted to take credit for passage of the ten percent (10%) homestead exemption. Donal’s press release is little more than his latest salvo in Doyal’s War Against The Taxpayers (WATT).
Doyal also proposed a 1-cent tax cut for Fiscal Year 2018. The 1-cent tax cut is patently ridiculous in light of the outcry from thousands of citizens demanding massive spending cuts in the County government in opposition to Doyal’s calls for increased County government spending. In his February 1 press release, Doyal stated that he and Commissioner Mike Meador would meet secretly with County Department heads to develop a Budget which they would ram through the Commissioners Court in the supposedly “open” Budget process. Doyal and Meador have not yet conducted any of those meetings. Therefore, Doyal’s proposed tiny 1-cent tax cut proposal is nothing but pandering to attempt to quash the insistence of County citizens that the Commissioners Court enact real spending reductions.
A Citizens Budget Committee is working on its own, since the Commissioners Court refused to join forces with it when the announcement of the Committee’s formation occurred on December 20, 2016. The Committee is working towards $100 million in budget cuts with some spending increases for law enforcement and public safety, so that the net spending reductions that would permit a tax rate reduction approximately twelve (12) times that which the freespending Doyal has proposed.
Thousands of citizens have enlisted to fight against Doyal’s WATT.