Image: Craig Doyal (right) wearing the hat on September 25, 2013, with Harris County Commissioner Cactus Jack Cagle telling him what to say when he speaks in favor of tollroads.
Conroe, February 19 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal is running out of lies to justify keeping the tolls on the State Highway 242 flyovers. In a January 23, 2018, candidate debate, Doyal told one lie but realized afterwards it didn’t make a lick of sense. Then Doyal injected a second lie through his favorite fang, the Courier blog, that contradicted the first lie altogether. Unfortunately, the second injection didn’t work either, especially after his March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election challenger, State Representative Mark Keough not only caught Doyal in the lie but identified that another one of Doyal’s terrible crony deals.
Doyal’s lies about the SH 242 flyovers
Doyal has had trouble keeping his story straight about why he wants to continue to toll Montgomery County citizens to use the two SH 242 flyovers at the Interstate 45 intersection, even though the taxpayers have paid the debt off for those roads.
On January 23, 2018, during a candidate forum in The Woodlands, Doyal had an interesting exchange with conservative reform candidate for County Judge, Mark Keough, who is presently one of the most conservative state legislators in the Texas House of Representatives.
During the Texas Patriots PAC candidate debate, each of the candidates for Montgomery County Judge in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election had the opportunity to ask the other candidate a question. Doyal began with a silly question, “What’s your favorite movie?”
Keough, who has emphasized that he’ll fight for taxpayer rights during the electoral debates, answered, “Rambo.”
Keough then posed a far more serious question to Doyal, “Now that the tollroad for the bridges on State Highway 242 is paid off, are you going to keep taxing us on that road?” Doyal answered, “It’s not a tax; it’s a fee. It’s not paid off, because we still have a commitment to maintain the facility.”
Keough: “Now that the tollroad for the bridges on State Highway 242 is paid off, are you going to keep taxing us on that road?”
Doyal: “It’s not a tax; it’s a fee. It’s not paid off, because we still have a commitment to maintain the facility.”
On February 11, 2018, Doyal’s answer had changed, since Doyal sadly discovered that the citizens of this community didn’t fall for his excuse concerning maintenance of the flyovers, since those maintenance costs are minimal and already within the Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 Commissioner’s road and bridge budgets.
Therefore, Doyal changed his answer when the Courier blog asked him the exact same question as Keough had asked on January 23.
Here’s what the blog wrote in quoting Doyal’s latest attempt to cling to the tolls:
“But according to County Judge Craig Doyal, revenue from the tolled flyovers will fund the third connector at the intersection that will move traffic from Interstate 45 north to eastbound on Texas 242.
“‘We have committed to TxDOT to do the third connector,’” Doyal said. “‘We should honor the commitment.’”
Incredibly, now Doyal views the bureaucrats in the TxDOT state agency as people to whom he must “honor the commitment.” Doyal didn’t mention anything about “the commitment to maintain the facility.” Now, the “commitment” has moved from maintaining two very short existing roads to building a new one.
In both answers, Doyal failed to explain why the County government couldn’t just take the money Doyal has assured the citizens the County will get back after Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Meador took more than $13 million of County general revenue funds and blown them on the TX 249 Tollway project. Doyal has promised the citizens he’ll repay the $13 million once the TX 249 Tollway revenue bonds are issued or once the County turns the whole project back to the State of Texas and receives reimbursement for the folly.
It turns out, however, that (1) the County is not committed to do the third connector, and (2) the preliminary arrangement between Montgomery County and TxDOT is one of the terrible deals Doyal foisted on Montgomery County citizens.
Keough catches the fallacy of Doyal’s second lie and Doyal’s terrible deal with TxDOT
Keough caught the fallacy of Doyal’s second lie. It turns out that Montgomery County didn’t make a “commitment” to TxDOT to build the eastbound flyover on SH 242 at all.
Doyal approved the County’s Pass-Through Toll Agreement on August 29, 2005, along with his colleagues on the Commissioners Court. On December 20, 2010, Doyal, along with the Commissioners Court, signed an advance funding amendment specifically to build the eastbound SH 242 flyover for for $12,307,171.92. The Montgomery County taxpayers’ portion of the “financing” of the flyover would be 100%.
Nevertheless, the County has the right under paragraph 16 of the original Pass-Through Toll Agreement to terminate that agreement at any time after TxDOT paid the County all of the pass-through tolls, which has already occurred.
But here’s the big catch: as long as Montgomery County continues to collect tolls on the flyovers, the County government must, under paragraph 16 of the Agreement, use the tolls to fund the flyovers and nothing else. In other words, if the County stops collecting tolls on the flyovers, it is no longer obligated to fund 100% of the construction costs of the eastbound SH 242 flyover, and the County could seek to renegotiate the agreement either to have TxDOT fund all of that construction, or at least a portion of it. So the bottom line is that collection of tolls on the two flyovers actually harms Montgomery County taxpayers by forcing them to foot the entire bill for the eastbound flyover.
…as long as Montgomery County continues to collect tolls on the flyovers, the County government must, under paragraph 16 of the Agreement, use the tolls to fund the flyovers and nothing else. In other words, if the County stops collecting tolls on the flyovers, it is no longer obligated to fund 100% of the construction costs of the eastbound SH 242 flyover, and the County could seek to renegotiate the agreement either to have TxDOT fund all of that construction, or at least a portion of it. So the bottom line is that collection of tolls on the two flyovers actually harms Montgomery County taxpayers by forcing them to foot the entire bill for the eastbound flyover.
Keough issued this statement last week:
“In 2010 then Commissioner Craig Doyal agreed to an amendment that would force Montgomery County to pay 100% of the cost of a third direct connector on HWY 242 with I-45. Normally TxDOT would fund a project like that at a cost of 80% to the state and 20% to the local government.
“In this bad deal for Montgomery County taxpayers Doyal and the Commissioners Court agreed to pay 100% of the cost because of their desire to grab additional revenue in the form of tolls on the already proposed two flyovers, which at the time hadn’t even been constructed. The agreement with TxDOT was that, so long as Montgomery County continued to collect tolls we must pay for the third connector at 100% cost to the tax payers of Montgomery County.
“But the good news is the contract had a termination agreement built in. Sec. 16 of the agreement terminated the entire contract once TxDOT paid their portion of the original 80% of the first two flyovers. Which their final payment came last year, and now that the flyovers are debt free the tolls should be removed.
“Failing to remove the tolls puts Montgomery County Taxpayers on the hook for another $12+ million dollars for a third connector that would normally be funded 80/20 split with the state. At the current usage of the flyovers, the new $12 million dollars for a third connector would take more than 20 years to pay off. This is another bad deal for the Tax Payers of this county.
“The County must end it’s desire to grab additional revenue by tolling taxpayers to use the roads they already pay for with their taxes. These are the type of deals that I have pledged to get rid of and never make in my Contract with the voters. As #5 of the contract says “‘Montgomery County First.'”