Conroe, March 28 – County Judge Craig Doyal and County Auditor Phyllis Martin, who exercises little independence from the County government’s political machinations and has worked closely with Doyal to increase County government spending over past years, are introducing a so-called “FY 2018 Budget Packet” during the March 28, 2017, 9:30 a.m. Commissioners Court meeting. The packet, earmarked for County Departments, is little more than a form for a “wish list” and does absolutely nothing to encourage County Department heads to exercise any fiscal restraint.
Doyal has made clear that he seeks more County government spending and opposes efforts to cut spending, to reduce the property tax burden on citizens, and to permit even the slight pittance of a 20% homestead exemption from property taxes to give minor relief to overburdened taxpayers suffering from Doyal’s and the Commissioner’s bloating government spending bellies hanging like a “Sword of Damocles” over the heads of the citizens of this suffering community. Since 2000, Montgomery County government spending has exploded by 428% while population growth has only been 84% during the same period. Doyal has contended that government spending should grow at the rate of inflation plus population growth. By that measure alone, Doyal’s County government spending has grown, only since 2010, by $54 million than it should have under such targeting spending ceilings.
In short, Doyal, Auditor Martin, and the County Commissioners Court are completely out of control.
The Budget Packet does nothing to restrain such growth. Hidden within the packet is a “Budget Policy” which Doyal and Martin have proposed. Nothing in the proposed Budget Policy calls for reduced County government spending. To the contrary, the policy contains multiple meaningless euphemisms that express no desire whatsoever regarding the fiscal direction of Montgomery County. The policy euphemistically attempts to defend the swollen salaries at the top of the County government.
The Budget Policy fails to provide any method of zero-based budgeting, for the simple reason, as Doyal and Martin have made clear, that Doyal, Martin, and the Commissioners have no idea how to conduct zero-based budgeting. The Budget Policy fails to include goals to reduce County spending at all. The Budget Policy fails to include goals to increase funding for law enforcement, despite the failure of Doyal, Meador, Riley, and others to address public safety needs of the community. The Budget Policy fails to establish limits for the use of debt, management guidelines, methods of increasing department efficiency, methods of reducing waste. or even any means of ascertaining how to identify waste within the County government. The proposed Budget Policy also fails to establish any sort of long-term plan for a capital improvements or road and bridge fund.
Doyal’s and Martin’s budget packet establishes secret budget meetings between departments and the County Auditor to discuss departmental budgets during the months of April and May. Transparency and openness clearly are policies which Doyal and Martin seek to reject. By the time of the budget workshops during the week of July 24, 2017, Martin, Doyal, and the departments will already have established their actual proposed budgets, so that the workshops are merely for show. Once again, as during the past year, Doyal and Martin propose to have the Commissioners Court vote on the entire County budget and even establish a proposed property tax rate before any public hearings or participation may occur.
Nowhere in any of the budget documents or the proposed policy is there any mention of a line-by-line review of the entire Montgomery County budget and the budgets of each County department.
Here comes the tax increase!
Since Doyal intends to increase County spending and to ignore any methods of reducing the waste inside of our County government, he and Martin have already planned for publication of a notice of public hearings on a “tax increase” on August 1, 2017. The first public hearing on Doyal’s tax increase (i.e., the massive spending increase Doyal so clearly plans) will occur on August 8, 2017. Of course, Doyal intends to restrict citizen comments to 3 minutes concerning a County budget approaching $400 million and almost 500 pages long. By then, public comments won’t really matter, because the Commissioners Court will have already adopted the budget and the tax rate during the July Commissioners Court meetings wherein they ignored citizens and did whatever they please.
Doyal and Martin are providing plenty of space in the budget package for Department heads to provide multiple “explanations of funding in excess of previous year levels.” Citizens should expect extensive wish lists which Martin and Doyal will grant in the privacy of their secret meetings.
The public hearing on Doyal’s massive spending increase of a budget will occur on September 5, 2017. Doyal intends for the Commissioners to “ratify property tax increase” on September 12, 2017. Then, of course, Doyal, Martin, and their freestanding cronies will enjoy the fat new budget on October 1, 2018.
Doyal intends to ignore the call of the County GOP Executive Committee, in an overwhelming vote in favor, for reducing County government spending and for a 20% homestead exemption from property taxes.
Doyal and Martin don’t wish to oversee any sort of reasoned budget process. Rather, they seek to be Santa and his elves at Macy’s Department Store granting the children every wish on their wish list (regardless of whether they’ve actually been good or bad girls and boys).
RIP Montgomery County Taxpayers.