Image: Two decades of failing to manage Montgomery County government spending have begun to catch up with the freespending Commissioners Court.
Conroe, June 24 – Two decades of failing to manage Montgomery County government spending have begun to catch up with the freespending Montgomery County Commissioners Court, according to financial projections which Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae secretly issued to the members of the Court. The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, received the secret memorandum from McRae to the five Commissioners Court members from three different sources inside the County government, while the newspaper obtained the Fiscal Year 2018 memorandum through a request under the Texas Public Information Act/Open Records Act.
Rather than managing spending of the Montgomery County government, lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador have chosen to soak up every new dollar of property tax appraisal increases with new spending programs and even committed the County government to spending far beyond those amounts. They have abjectly failed to manage spending and operations within the County government.
Since 2000, the Montgomery County government’s spending has increased 428%, while population growth has only been 84% and overall cumulative inflation has been 38% during that time period. Therefore, under a formula with the Republican Party Platform and also which 2010 Republican Primary voters approved in a statewide referendum to hold spending increases to the level of population growth and inflation as an absolute ceiling, the ultra-liberal, pro-government growth Montgomery County government has increased spending by approximately three times over what the maximum increases should have been.
Spending since 2010, when voters passed the spending ceiling referendum has also exploded well above the level voters had stipulated as a study by Montgomery County Clerk Mark Turnbull showed during the 2017 Commissioners Court budget hearings.
Tax Assessor-Collector McRae’s dire financial projections
On June 18, 2018, McRae issued her secret memorandum to the members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. Based upon her projection of a 98.% collection rate for the taxes, McRae projects that tax revenue during Fiscal Year 2019 will only grow from $247,423,189 in Fiscal Year 2018 to $249, 305.005, or less than $2 million.
Unfortunately, the freespending Montgomery County Commissioners Court has already committed the County government to spend approximately $2.4 million on the law enforcement departments’ STEP Plan, which provides additional compensation to officers based upon their experience. The Commissioners Court has made other major prior commitments to spend money as well.
Therefore, by failing to manage government spending growth and by failing to manage the efficiency of County government operations, Doyal and the Commissioners Court have found themselves in quite a pinch. Basically, they just haven’t done their jobs for several years, because they failed to eliminate waste and inefficiency in their spending sprees.
Since Riley and Meador have freely and happily raised taxes on Montgomery County citizens as members of the policy-making Board of Directors of the Montgomery Central Appraisal District where they set reappraisal policies to increase taxes aggressively, Riley and Meador would probably happily raise the tax rate so they can increase spending. One possible mitigating factor for Montgomery County citizens is that McRae’s projections are from a 98.5% collection rate, while the actual collection rate is usually around 99.5%. The difference in the collection rate would bring in additional taxes of around $4 million to help to make up the shortfall.
If there has ever been a budget season when Montgomery County citizens should be as vigilant as possible, it’s 2018. Doyal is a lame duck and doesn’t care how much he harms Montgomery County taxpayers. Meador is also planning to retire at the end of his current term in 2020 or even sooner. Riley has always supported tax and spending increases, while Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark are likely to oppose any tax increase.
In 2017, the Citizens Budget Committee made recommendations to the Commissioners Court for $20 million of spending reductions that would not have reduced any County services to the public. The Committee provided its report on July 25, 2018. The Commissioners Court ignored the report in its entirety. On September 5, 2017, the Committee submitted a supplemental report that detailed approximately three dozen spending errors, overlaps, and inconsistencies in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. Only one member of the Commissioners Court, Clark, paid any heed to the supplemental report when he voted against the Budget that day. The remainder of the Commissioners Court – Doyal, Noack, Riley, and Meador – ignored the supplemental report concerns, even though two members of the Court – Doyal and Noack – acknowledged that there were some spending overlaps that the Citizens Budget Committee had identified.