Image: Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal living off the fat of the community.
Conroe, April 20 – Lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal recognizes that his days are numbered, so he’s pushing forward to help his engineering cronies to County taxpayer dollars as quickly as he can. Doyal’s latest grand waste of money is to seek to commit more than $200,000 to the local share of a flood control and flood mitigation project for which the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) should pay and for which SJRA easily has available funds.
On Thursday, August 19, 2018, Doyal issued a press release stating that Governor Greg Abbott has procured $1.875 million in federal funds for a flood hazard mitigation study for Montgomery County. SJRA has a statutory duty “to provide flood control” which has been its primary responsibility since the Texas Legislature created the River Authority in 1937. Just recently in response to intense political pressure from Governor Abbott, State Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), former State Representative Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands), and State Representative Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), SJRA has created a Flood Mitigation Division, hired a $190,000 per year engineer to head the new Division, and proclaimed its commitment to “flood control.”
The County government has no statutory duty whatsoever to provide flood control, especially since SJRA is flush with cash from its expensive water sales to local municipalities, The Woodlands, utility companies, and homeowners associations who must buy surface water from SJRA since the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District has so strictly regulated the right of groundwater property owners to utilize their own groundwater.
During State Senate Agriculture Committee hearings on October 23, 2017, in New Caney, SJRA General Manager Jace Houston had to respond that SJRA did have funds available to provide flood control. In fact, the latest annual financial statement for Fiscal Year 2017 shows that SJRA has more than $41.9 million in unrestricted cash available. Nevertheless, Doyal wants Montgomery County taxpayers, who already paid exorbitant fees for SJRA’s waters, to bear the brunt of the local share for a flood control study which SJRA should have conducted a long time ago.
In fact, the latest annual financial statement for Fiscal Year 2017 shows that SJRA has more than $41.9 million in unrestricted cash available. Nevertheless, Doyal wants Montgomery County taxpayers, who already paid exorbitant fees for SJRA’s waters, to bear the brunt of the local share for a flood control study which SJRA should have conducted a long time ago.
It’s important to remember the connection Doyal has to SJRA, however. Doyal’s best friend and business partner is Bobby Jack Adams, the regional Vice President for Halff Associates, Inc., the engineering firm which is the largest engineering contractor to SJRA. If SJRA spends its money on fulfilling its statutory duty “to provide flood control,” then there’s a lot less money for SJRA to spend on Doyal’s buddy’s engineering firm, which also happens to be one of the primary organizers of Doyal’s criminal legal defense fund.
Doyal also wants to commit as much of County taxpayers’ dollars to engineering projects as possible before he leaves office. Doyal’s plan after he leaves is to form a marketing and lobbying firm to represent his top engineering cronies before governmental entities with whom they do business. In other words, pouring money into the pockets of engineering firms right now and forcing County taxpayers to commit to long-term engineering firm commitments will directly assist Doyal in garnering engineering firm clients.
In reality, Montgomery County needs a study for flood mitigation but then it needs SJRA to make the full commitment to implement the findings of the study. That implementation shouldn’t require one penny of County taxpayers’ funds. Rather, County taxpayers have already paid for the flood control through their high water bills paid to plow cash into the pockets of SJRA.
With $41.9 million in unrestricted cash, SJRA doesn’t need Montgomery County taxpayers to pull cash out of their pockets to feed the hungry mouths of Craig Doyal and his cronies.