Montgomery County Commissioner Riley’s latest SH 242 tollroad scam uncovered, as reality surfaces that Montgomery County Toll Road Authority has paid no flyover toll expenses!

Montgomery County Commissioner Riley’s latest SH 242 tollroad scam uncovered, as reality surfaces that Montgomery County Toll Road Authority has paid no flyover toll expenses!

Conroe, April 16 – Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s latest scam and lie has finally seen the light of day as the truth has surfaced that there are no Toll Road Authority-paid maintenance expenses for the State Highway 242 flyovers. Riley has desperately tried to keep the tolls on the flyovers with the argument that, if Montgomery County ended tolling of the flyovers, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) would not assume the maintenance expenses for them.

During the April 9, 2019, Commissioners Court meeting, Riley, who is also Chairman of the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority (MCTRA), an adjunct of the Commissioners Court, said, “I can tell you that as of yesterday talking to Quincy Allen [TxDOT’s Regional Engineer], they’re in no hurry to maintain these flyovers…Just because we remove the tolls does not mean he’s going to maintain the flyovers.”

Riley, however, as MCTRA Chairman, is the one person in Montgomery County who should most certainly know that there are no maintenance expenses, which MCTRA pays, for the SH 242 flyovers. First, the expense of the cameras which are the toll readers on the flyovers are under a contract between MCTRA and the Harris County Toll Road Authority (HCTRA), which collects the tolls and maintains the readers. Second, the cleaning and maintenance of the two flyovers has amounted to such an inconsequential expense that neither MCTRA nor the Montgomery County government even reflects those expenses as a separate line item anywhere on the financial books and records of MCTRA or the County government.

Former Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark confirmed that the SH 242 flyover maintenance expenses amount to well under $35,000 per year and consist of two expenditures:

  • TxDOT requires an annual certification from a structural engineer, which such certification costs less than $25,000 per year and has come from the Precinct 4 Commissioners budget;
  • The Precinct 4 County Commissioner has cleaned the flyovers once every calendar quarter using a crew of Montgomery County Jail inmates, Precinct 4 road equipment, and one or two road equipment operators from the Precinct 4 Commissioner’s Office, which Clark estimates cost well under $10,000 per year.

In other words, the County government is already paying the expense for the SH 242 flyovers without reimbursement from MCTRA from the tolls collected!

On March 19, 2019, MCTRA held a special meeting at the end of the Commissioners Court to approve the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CAFR reflects no expenses for maintenance of the flyover tollroads whatsoever. In fact, the only expenses in the CAFR’s income statement are for the payments to HCTRA for collection of the tolls on behalf of Montgomery County and for depreciation and amortization expense, which does not impact cash flow at all.

Montgomery County Auditor Rakesh Pandey confirmed that he has seen no accounting entry which reflects expenses for the SH 242 flyovers. Pandey told this newspaper in an email late yesterday afternoon in response to a request for information:

“There are no maintenance expenses recorded on the toll road financials, as those expenses were paid of out Pct 4 and Pct 2 funds.

There were no repair & maintenance expenses that Harris County was reimbursed related to the tolling services. Part 3 of the Interlocal Agreement for Tolling Services allows Harris County to perform maintenance work on the SH 242 Facility, including any emergency repairs or replacements (at Harris County’s discretion) on facility, equipment and infrastructure, and MCTRA will have to reimburse Harris County within 60 days of receiving an invoice for the same, however,  there has not been an instance as such till date.”

Based upon the CAFR, MCTRA has $2,992,728 in unrestricted cash, which MCTRA may use for any purpose. That means MCTRA already has sufficient cash reserves to pay for the SH 242 flyover maintenance expenses for eighty-five (85) years! ($2,992,728 divided by $35,000 per year in expenses equals 85.5 years.) The bottom line is that there is no reason whatsoever for MCTRA, i.e., the Commissioners Court, to continue the tolls on the SH 242 flyovers.

Based upon the CAFR, MCTRA has $2,992,728 in unrestricted cash, which MCTRA may use for any purpose. That means MCTRA already has sufficient cash reserves to pay for the SH 242 flyover maintenance expenses for eighty-five (85) years! ($2,992,728 divided by $35,000 per year in expenses equals 85.5 years.) The bottom line is that there is no reason whatsoever for MCTRA, i.e., the Commissioners Court, to continue the tolls on the SH 242 flyovers. 

Three individuals who work in road section of Precinct 2 Commissioner Riley’s office did, however, speak with The Golden Hammer on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Riley’s office employees confirmed that street sweepers from Precinct 2 have cleaned the flyovers on two known occasions with County employees operating the machinery. Neither of those maintenance occasions were in the past two years.

The lack of any accounting entries for the flyover maintenance is consistent with the fact that Riley is well aware that the maintenance requirements are almost nothing and have merely required sweeping of the flyovers every quarter.

Therefore, Riley’s argument that removing the flyover tolls should wait until TxDOT agreed to take over the maintenance expense is yet another lie to continue taxing Montgomery County citizens.

To be fair to Riley, there are also plenty of doomsday scenarios one might imagine. Even Riley was able to conjure the fear that a barge might run into the SH 242 flyovers and cause them to collapse. The Golden Hammer has confirmed, however, with two individuals in the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office and one individual with a third-party engineering vendor that flyovers constructed over interstate highways, such as Interstate 45, must go through rigorous design to withstand enormous lateral forces on their pylons as well as on the flyovers themselves. Clark noted that the structural engineering firm told him during the last testing that the flyovers are structurally sound for at least another century.

The bottom line? Charlie Riley wants tolls. He’ll do anything he can to expand the tollroad system. In fact, the CAFR specifically addresses Toll Road Chairman Riley’s excitement about tollroads on page 8 to its Financial Notes: “The [Montgomery County Toll Road] Authority continues to improve and expand the Toll Road System to meet growing demand.”

While that growing demand for tollroads is another of Riley’s (and Doyal’s) figments of their imagination, they’re willing to say and do anything to increase Big and Bigger Government collection of “other people’s money.”

By the way, look at Riley’s (and Doyal’s) latest tollroad scam. They’ve given dire warnings that County taxpayers might have to pay the expenses to maintain the flyovers, when, in fact, County taxpayers have been paying those expenses all along over and above the tolls they already have to pay.

Tolls advocate Charlie Riley (left) with his two most avid supporters, fake Riley PAC President Ritzy Fletcher, and Shenandoah City Councilman Ted Fletcher.

 

Comments

comments

You must be logged in to post a comment Login