Image: Analogy to the current state of the Montgomery County government’s so-called “budget process.”
Conroe, July 16 – For the taxpayers, it’s a disaster. For anyone who cares about government spending, it’s a joke.
Under the direction of Montgomery County Auditor Phyllis Martin, who is not the budget officer ostensibly for the Montgomery County government any longer, Budget Office Director Amanda Carter, made her proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Budget available for public viewing at the Tuesday, July 10, 2018, Commissioners Court meeting. Carter provided almost no presentation whatsoever but said she’d make the proposal available on the County’s website.
The proposed budget explicitly admits to raising spending by $8,354,176 from the current Fiscal Year 2018 to Fiscal Year 2019. The numbers don’t quite add up, but that’s fairly typical for the Montgomery County government where the County Auditor audits her own books and records.
The Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, as adopted, was $328,524,551. That’s a meaningless number when the County Commissioners Court is so used to doing a sloppy job in the budget process that they know there will be several hundred “budget amendments” which will radically change the actual dollar amount of the expenditures during the year. For example, the current amount of expenditures of the Montgomery County government through the first nine months of Fiscal Year 2018 is actually $357,820,218, quite an amazing number for a Budget adopted to be $29 million less than that amount.
The clear message from Carter is that the County government will continue to fail to address wasteful spending and the stratospheric level of property taxes that Montgomery County citizens must bear largely due to the lack of leadership on the County Commissioners Court.
Carter, whose main job was to find areas to cut waste and inefficiency from the County Budget, is proposing to raise spending to $336,453,649, which is a 2.4% increase in spending. While that seems bad, in actuality, the threat which the taxpayers face is substantially worse.
Carter did nothing to reduce wasteful spending or address inefficiently managed County Departments. Rather, Carter merely trimmed some of the new spending requests. Carter didn’t break the spending free fall but merely slowed it down.
None of Carter, Martin, County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, or anyone else in the County government has done anything to break the cycle of government spending increases. They’re all asleep except when it comes to setting their own compensation.
The serious issue where the citizens will suffer an increase is salaries for County employees, including, of course, the elected servants who seem primarily to serve themselves. None of the County Departments addressed salary increases (with the exception of the County Auditor), because Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal instructed them to hold those salary increase requests until the last couple of hours of the so-called “budget hearings” when Doyal and his freespending colleagues will lower the boom on the taxpayers with salary increases for most, if not all, County employees. The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper confirmed Doyal’s instruction with respect to salary increase gamesmanship which he doesn’t want in public prior to the Commissioners Court actually make the decision (in the open) with one employee in Doyal’s office and two Department Directors who received the instruction but requested anonymity with respect to their identities.
As a result, Carter’s proposed budget is merely a placeholder. The spending increases will come at the last minute on Friday, July 27, 2018.