Conroe, June 26 – The Montgomery County Central Appraisal District’s (MCAD) outrageous budget proposal and the County’s mismanagement of its engineering practices highlight the Montgomery County Commissioners Court Agenda for Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. The Commissioners intend to extend the contract of John Holzwarth, a private engineer who contracts with the County to do the work which highly-salaried County Engineer Mark Mooney should do instead.
Of course, an obscene “consent agenda” dominates most of the actions which the County Judge Craig Doyal and four County Commissioners will take.
Don’t expect much objection over MCAD’s Budget proposal to come out of this Commissioners Court. Remember’s two of MCAD’s five Board of Directors members are Precinct 1 County Commissioner “Sleeping” Mike Meador and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley. MCAD’s Chairman is former Precinct 3 County Commissioner Ed Chance. Meanwhile, County Judge Craig Doyal wants to continue the growth of County government spending, so he’d never disavow the main tool for tax and spending increases, the MCAD, which gives Doyal and his cronies the ability to blame something other than their own actions for the massive property taxes Doyal and cronies levy each year on Montgomery County citizens.
The critical portions of the Agenda follow.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9A1: Consider and approve payment of accounts.
77 pages of bills totaling $6,995,522.22. No one checks them. There’s no oversight.
$75,218.68 on the Tx-249 Taxway, the $73 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 extension, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County. Of course, Doyal, his County vendor pals, and the Courier blog which he controls have told you that taxpayers are not spending any money on this project.
In order to show proper deference and respect, please ignore the fact that you’re spending $75,218.68 of your tax dollars just in the past two weeks on $3,875 paid to Rich Muller, the attorney who will say what he’s told to say to support the project, $63,138.48 in right-of-way acquisition from the Tomball ISD who have a wonderful opportunity to sell worthless land to the suckers also known as the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, and $8,026.22 to Linebarger Goggan law firm whom registered County lobbyist Maris Blair represents.
Holzwarth: Part I
The County is also paying engineer John Holzwarth over $16,300 for engineering services which duplicate what County Engineer Mark Mooney’s job responsibilities are. LJA Engineering will receive $7,400 which will likely help defray the costs of their fishing trip in Louisiana that they just provided to several County employees including Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, and Dannenbaum Engineering that hasn’t had any more FBI raids in the past few weeks.
The County is paying $670 to the Courier blog! No wonder they get such good stories out of them.
The County is paying $650 to Arts Alive, Inc., which provides a “one-of-a-kind, magical expressive arts journey.” Hopefully, Doyal and Meador will have a nice journey.
The County is paying $812 in hotel bills for County Auditor Phyllis Martin. Hopefully, she had a nice stay.
Wayne Mack is paying himself $357.76 out of his budget over and above his salary and benefits.
The County is paying $401.35 of Craig Doyal’s credit card bills.
Mismanaged JP Court collections
The County is paying the collection firm, Graves Humphries, that prevents citizens from accessing Justice of the Peace court records and has failed to collect for four courts the amount of fees that one court, Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly’s court, collects without the private firm’s “assistance.” Here’s what the County is paying under the contract that Precinct 4 JP James Metts and his “sworn deputy” Marc Davenport shoved down the County’s throat for a two-week period:
Justice of the Peace #1 $10,195.18
Justice of the Peace #2 $8,761.46
Justice of the Peace #4 $9,306.99
Justice of the Peace #5 $4,840.01
Total for 2-Weeks (!) $33,103.64
Annualized that would come to $860,694.64, which is almost double the annual budget for the entire Court Collections Department that does all of the fee and fine collections for eight (8) District Court, five (5) County Courts at Law, and one (1) Justice of the Peace Court.
Hopefully, these select items give the reader the flavor of how the County spends your tax dollars.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9A3: Budget “Amendments.” The budget amedments total more than 100 pages. Here are some examples.
The Commissioners intend to declare a “grave public necessity” requiring “emergency expenditure” of your tax dollars as follows, partly, for this two-week period:
The Animal Shelter finds it an emergency that we need to spend $13,880 less on medical services for the animals and move those funds to capital outlays as yet unidentified.
Meador wants to move $426,000 out of his road and bridge “slush fund” and spend it on salaries and benefits for his bloated staff.
Holzwarth: Part II
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9D1: The Commissioners Court will vote to give The Holzwarth Company a 1 year engineering contract to perform the exact same functions which the highly-paid salaried County Engineering should perform. The following are what engineer John Holzworth will supposedly do the County at the rate of $200 per hour: Engineering studies, Drainage investigation, Engineering design, Construction management and inspection, Assist with management of design consultants, surveying, and mapping, and Provide other related services as needed.
This contract is a complete waste of money. The County pays Holzwarth more than $250,000 per year for these services which are duplicative of the statutory job responsibilities of the County Engineer Mark Mooney.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9D2: The Commissioners Court, without review the underlying contracts at all, will approve one year extensions of the contracts to do the following:
buy miscellaneous auto parts
buy paint in no specified amount with Sherwin-Williams
buy polyethylene corrugated pipe
processing of tax statements
heavy duty equipment rental
obtain guardrail installation and repair
buy hardwood, lumber supplies,
and buy bulk road materials and asphaltic emulsions.
This agenda item is a “carte blanche” for County employees to purchase as much of these items as they so choose.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9D4: Approve advertising for unspecified telephone/data cabling, and “legal notices for various departments.” How in the world can the Commissioners Court members approve these items?! There is no backup and no specification whatsoever.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9D5: Approve $9500 environmental assessment for study of multi-unit housing that County is constructing.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9D7: set up an online auction of County property for “various departments.”
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9D8: award $97,450 for road-surface treatment for unspecified parts of County government and unspecified departments and $131,961 for printing for unspecified departments. Would you approve $228,000 of contracts for your business with that amount of information?! Of course, not. But it’s your County government at work. The Commissioners Court will approve anything as long as it’s on the “consent” agenda and saves them time for the golf course in the afternoon.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9D9: approve certificate of substantial completion by Fairweather Group, LLC, for a Precinct 1 recycling center. This company, which has a highly questionable reputation and a history of large contributions to Meador over the decades, should have enjoy approval of a certificate of completion unless an independent third-party inspector has examined the work first. In this instance, no one has examined the work.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9I: approve paying Gary Hyman $18,456.20 to settle his claim against Montgomery County.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9M: approve making Melissa Miller a Deputy County Clerk. Miller is running for Montgomery County District ClRrk against incumbent Barbara Gladden Adamick, who had previously endorsed Miller and encouraged Miller to run for the position from which Adamick was retiring. Miller had been the highest Deputy District Clerk in Adamick’s Office. After Adamick changed her mind five weeks ago and decided to run for re-election, she gave Miller, a 17-year veteran of the District Clerk’s Office, the choice of losing her job or continuing to run against Adamick. Miller chose the former and obtained a transfer through the Human Resources Department to work in the County Clerk’s Office instead.
Miller is a highly-qualified and skiller lady. She’ll bring a wealth of experience to Montgomery County Clerk Mark Turnbull’s Office while she runs for Montgomery County District Clerk in the 2018 Republican Primary Election.
Secretive “Consent” Agenda Item 9R: Approve consolidation of election polling places in the November 7, 2017, general election.
That’s where the “Consent” Agenda ends and the so-called “open” agenda begins.
MCAD Gorging Itself on Tax Dollars
Agenda Item 11B: “Acknowledge and accept the Montgomery Central Appraisal District’s 2018 Proposed Operating Budget.” Since Meador and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley serve on the MCAD Board of Directors, they should recuse themselves from the discussion and vote on this item. That’s a sense of ethics far beyond their ability. Just watch. Meador and Riley will vote on the own Board’s budget.
Enjoying the fruits of its own massive appraisal increases, the Montgomery Central Appraisal District (MCAD) plans a massive spending increase of $1,838,375, or 15.93%, for Fiscal Year 2018 over its 2017 operating budget. MCAD’s Board of Directors comprised of Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, former Precinct 3 County Commissioner Ed Chance, Bruce Tough, and Tom Cox, conducted a budget workshop with the District’s staff already and intends to conduct a “public hearing” on the 2018 Budget on August 24, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. in the District’s Board Room at 109 Gladstell in Conroe.
It should make taxpayers who are suffering at the hands of MCAD’s ridiculous and politically-charged appraisal increases particularly happy to know the fundamental attitude of MCAD’s Board of Directors is “We all strive to produce the best product for the taxpayers of Montgomery County through all the hurdles that are presented to us.” In other words, all of those appraisal increases, particularly in the more socioeconomically-challenged areas of Montgomery County, are a symbol of MCAD striving to produce the “best product.”
“Best product” is propaganda-speak for “higher taxes so government can continue to spend more and more money.”
What does MCAD want the massive spending increases for?
First, MCAD’s Board of Directors, under the leadership of Riley and Meador, want 3% merit raises for the MCAD staff, even though many other governmental entities are tightening their salary belts and even though private sector taxpayers are generally suffering very challenging economic times.
Second, and most shockingly, MCAD seeks additional appraisal staff so that MCAD may more aggressively pursue appraisal increases to raise taxes on Montgomery County’s beleaguered citizens. MCAD wants to hire five (5) more experienced appraisers to go after taxpayers’ homes. Frighteningly, MCAD seeks to apply Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices to Montgomery County homes, so that tax appraisals will likely skyrocket.
In order to support all of those tax increases MCAD’s Board – including Riley and Meador – seeks, the MCAD wants to add a new IT/Data Processing person so that taxing units will receive tax data faster, to increase MCAD’s networking capabilities, and to add one new mapping technician to the team of grim reapers assessing new ways to take hard-earned money away from people. MCAD also wants to spend $125,000 on a mobile field office to “enable appraisers to complete their job duties in a more efficient manor (sic) and increase productivity.”
With all of the new positions and salary increases, of course, staff benefits will also need to rise as will the cost of insurance.
Since MCAD anticipates nearly open warfare as it seeks to tax people out of the values of their homes, the District wants to increase the days the paid Appraisal Review Board meets. MCAD also has assured the taxing entities who depend upon it to raise taxes as swiftly as possible to place as much of the County’s appraisal roll under constant review as much as possible. MCAD hopes that 95% of all homes and other properties will receive valuation reviews – also known as “increases” – each year. MCAD also projects that its legal services and arbitration budget will need to increase so that the District is better armed to fight against taxpayers who dare question the massive increases.
The final insult to the taxpayers
The MCAD Board under the leadership of Riley, Meador, and Chance seeks to spend substantial funds to buy new office furniture, a new mapping plotter, and system servers.
As taxpayers have to sell their homes and the contents within them to meet the demands of the 129 taxing authorities in Montgomery County, MCAD plans to make its permanent office – and its brand new mobile office – as plush as possible.
Agenda Item 14A: This Agenda item is absolutely, completely, totally, utterly, thoroughly, 1000%, entirely, perfectly, universally, comprehensively, wholly, categorically, downright, out-and-out, thorough-goingly, unqualifiedly, all-out, exhaustively, profoundly, soundly, unequivocally, unconditionally, unreservedly, extensively, consummately, and profanely
(Please see today’s Featured Article for a nice kick to your stomach.)
Agenda Item 15A: The Commissioners Court will take action on a proposed tax abatement agreement that is so super-secretive that neither Tammy McRae, the Tax Assessor-Collector, nor the County Judge Doyal can even disclose the name of the proposed recipient of the tax abatement. Regardless of whether the name or the nature of the recipient of these tax benefits sees the light of day, don’t worry: Doyal, Riley, and Meador will vote to approve it. Perhaps, Vladimir Putin is going to build a branch of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service in Conroe? No matter. Whatever it is; they’ll get an abatement either way.
Agenda Item 16A: The Animal Shelter wants permission to apply for an intake diversion grant from PetsMart Charities.
Agenda Item 17B: Award $3.1 million in completely-unreviewed and unspecified contracts for the widening of Bois D’Arc Road.
Agenda Item 17C: Spend $418,300 in consulting fees to Plante Moran for their management assistance to implement an Enterprise Resource Planning program in the County. That consulting fee is more than the entire program should cost! With all of the touting that County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport does of her own supposed “analytical” ability, you’d think that she could provide that management assistance to the County as part of her duties. With the bloated number of employees in the County Auditor’s Office, one might think that she could divert some of those people to help with the management assistance.
Agenda Item 18: County Attorney J.D. Lambright is doing a budget-neutral partial reorganization of the CPS and Governmental Affairs Divisions of the County Attorney’s Office.
Agenda Item 20: Doyal and Mooney want the County to enter into an agreement to contribute right-of-way funds for widening F.M. 1488 from the Waller County line eastward to what Doyal and Tx-DOT refer to as F.M. “1744” (actually 1774). After the focused criticism of the Tx-249 Taxway project that it has diverted more than $13 million of funds from the most important mobility project in Montgomery County, widening of F.M. 1488, it’s good to see Doyal finally giving some attention to that project. The agreement, however, seems to be a “carte blanche” for the County to give the State unlimited funds for right-of-way acquisition. Is it too much to ask for a bit more precision before the County enters into such a written agreement?
Agenda Item 21B: Riley has proposed spending unspent 2012 Certificate of Obligation funds on a West County Sheriff Substation. There are no specific plans or budgets for that Substation. If Sheriff Henderson believes such a Substation is necessary, then hopefully he’ll provide a budget for the project, so that the County can pull the necessary funds out of a long-term capital improvements fund. There’s no need to borrow money for a Sheriff Substation. If Sheriff Henderson states there’s a need, then we should build it while exercise reasonable diligence and care.
Agenda Item 21C: Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark wants to spend money on a Countywide Transportation Strategy. While that proposal makes some sense, there is no need for the County to spend money on such a strategy. Rather, Doyal (who has a ton of free time) and the four County Commissioners should set aside 100 hours of time to meet together and knock out a plan of their own with the County’s own staff resources. Citizens should have the right to participate in this public hearing.
Agenda Item 22A: There’s an executive session for the lawsuit against Wayne Mack which the Freedom from Religion Foundation has brought against Mack and Montgomery County. Mack has promised that he’ll not tax County resources to defend this lawsuit. We should hold him to that promise. Hopefully, neither the County Attorney nor other County employees will need to engage in Mack’s fight. Hopefully, Mack, Marc Davenport (who writes Mack’s speeches, prayers, thoughts, and posts, as well as managing Mack’s other “subversive activities,” to use his own words), and their private law firm will handle this matter without expense to the taxpayers.