Conroe, January 14 – The idea was to reduce salaries as a symbol of leadership in reducing government spending. Then-State Representative Mark Keough drew hundreds of conservative political activists and opinion-makers to his campaign by promising that he would reduce his salary by 12%, so that the Montgomery County Judge would not earn a salary higher than the Governor of Texas.
With a brief secret meeting and the treachery of corrupt Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts and fired former County Auditor Phyllis Martin, who has now joined Metts’ group of rejects whom Metts has brought onto the County government payroll during the past two weeks, Metts tricked County Judge Mark Keough from erasing the progress by putting the saved salaries of Keough and his Chief of Staff Jason Millsaps into Metts’ Precinct 4 Commissioner asphalt account.
Keough revealed Metts’ treachery when Keough mistakenly stated he was glad to be “helping the people of East Montgomery County” by giving them the funds from his and Millsaps’ salary reduction.
In reality, Metts didn’t need those funds and most certainly those funds won’t benefit the citizens of East Montgomery County.
Metts and Martin merely lied to Keough and told him the people of East Montgomery County needed those funds when they met in an unannounced private meeting with Keough immediately before the Tuesday, January 8, Commissioners Court meeting. If Metts had had to make the request in the open meeting in public view, many people could have explained the truth to Keough, who is just learning his new job as County Judge.
What is the truth? Metts already had more than funds in a carryover account, 615-7997, which he could use for asphalt, but which Martin and Metts failed to explain to Keough when they met with him.
The Golden Hammer confirmed that just from Fiscal Year 2018, a year in which former Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark led enormous road and bridge maintenance activity, there is $102,499.00 in the 615-7997 carryover account. In other words, there’s a “slush fund” of money sitting available to Metts to use for roads and bridges. Former Commissioner Clark has estimated that the total funds in that carryover account exceed $1.7 million and are unencumbered. Those funds come from years of unspent funds accumulated from the period when Commissioner Ed Rinehart was in office and during the past four years under Clark.
Metts said to Keough in the open Commissioners Court meeting, “I admire you for what you’re doing and I appreciate it. And I think it should go back in the asphalt fund. In this particular line, I don’t want to get you for more…Thank you for that, sir.”
Metts even seconded Keough’s motion to reduce Keough’s salary.
Metts then added, “Thank you again, sir.” Keough replied, “You’re welcome.”
Keough fulfilled his promise to the citizens except that the reduced salary funds didn’t go where the citizens needed them most, symbolic tax relief.
At the same time, the person who was particularly duplicitous during Metts’ meeting early Tuesday morning was former County Auditor Phyllis Martin who knew about all of the “slush funds” available to Metts for road and bridge maintenance. The real test of whether Metts was merely manipulating Keough or whether Metts believed there really was a need for the salary savings to go into East Montgomery County roads is whether Metts actually uses the funds for road repairs or whether those funds just go into further accumulation of the Precinct 4 “slush funds.”