Conroe, August 7 – Despite forcing Montgomery County taxpayers to spend $300,000 on a new bureaucracy called the “Budget Office,” the Montgomery County Commissioners Court is delivering the same gamesmanship to avoid transparency of the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Budget as last year, under the direction of wild spending-and-taxing lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal, County Commissioner James Noack, County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and County Commissioner Mike Meador. Once again, the Commissioners Court is forcing Montgomery County citizens to suffer through two “public hearings” on the proposed tax rate without the benefit of even seeing the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Budget.
At the conclusion of the closed-to-public-participation “budget workshop,” Budget Office Director Amanda Carter told the Commissioners Court that she would make a copy of the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Budget available by Tuesday, July 31. She was lying. Now, Carter has issued the following pronouncement:
“The public hearings on August 14th and August 28th are the tax rate hearings. The public hearing on September 5th is for the budget. The budget office will post a Revised Preliminary Budget (also known to some as a Recommended Budget) with the changes from the Budget workshop on or before August 20th. Then on or before August 29th we will file our Proposed Budget with the Clerk’s office.”
The County government website contradicts Carter by declaring that the second public hearing on the tax rate will be August 24, 2018. Likely, the confusion is intentional.
Either way, since Carter now refuses to make the Recommended Budget available until August 20, there will be at least one, if not two, “tax rate hearings” at which the public will have to discuss the tax rate without the benefit of the Recommended Budget for which the Commissioners Court intends to levy those taxes. That’s not entirely surprising, since the Commissioners Court’s primary method of budgeting is to raise the tax rate as high as possible, to raise collections as high as property tax appraisals will bear, and then to increase government spending to the maximum amount.
That’s precisely what Noack and Doyal led the Commissioners Court to do last September when they created the so-called “Budget Office” for the express purpose of spending $280,000 saved in charges from the Montgomery Central Appraisal District, as a result of the citizen-led move to provide a 20% homestead exemption.
Secrecy and government by tricks clearly are the modus operandus of Doyal and Noack. (Noack led the County Commissioners Court to approve a taxpayer-funded lobbying contract the agenda item for which Noack placed on the consent agenda without ever making the contract available for viewing by the general public.)