Image: In the “Payment of Accounts” agenda item, now included in Doyalesque style once again on the super secret “consent agenda,” the Montgomery County Commissioners Court intends to spend $11,801,037 during the Tuesday, June 23, 2020, meeting. Do they not recall that the County government decimated the local economy by mandating business closures, church closures, and “stay-at-home” orders in their panicked reaction to the Chinese Coronavirus?
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, June 23 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court continues on a spending spree as though they never decimated the local economy in their panicked reaction to the Chinese Coronavirus. During the Tuesday, June 23, 2020, Commissioners Court meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m., the four Commissioners and County Judge will spend a fortune of taxpayer funds on new and old programs.
Most disappointing, however, is the decision of the County Judge and his chief of staff to return the “Payment of Accounts” agenda item to the super secret “consent agenda,” so that the largest spending at each Commissioners Court meeting will occur in the dark, without discussion, without deliberation, and without oversight. It’s a shameful revisit of the Doyal era where secrecy reigned supreme. Numerous County government employees – eight, to be precise, including two department directors – have confirmed to this newspaper that the County Judge and his chief of staff have demanded that employees not communicate with the news media or the public without their express permission. They spoke with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. One of those employees told this newspaper, “It’s worse than Judge Doyal ever was. There’s a mean spirit in our County Judge like we’ve never seen in any leader of our County government. I’m scared for my family’s future.”
The Payment of Accounts agenda item includes $11,801,037 of spending over 101 pages of single-spaced expenditures none of which receive any oversight from the Commissioners Court. Of course, since the agenda items is on the “consent agenda,” there will be no public discussion.
That’s not the only spending initiatives the Commissioners Court – County Judge Mark Keough, Commissioner Precinct 1 Mike Meador, Commissioner Precinct 2 Charlie Riley, Commissioner Precinct 3 James Noack, and Commissioner Precinct 4 James Metts – will undertake. Strangely, in recent meetings, the most taxpayer-sensitive member of the Commissioners Court seems to be Riley. Riley has expressed his concern that County spending must go down in light of the economic stress placed on local taxpayers. Even Meador has seemed to agree with that sentiment.
On the super secret “consent agenda” alone, the Commissioners Court plans to spend over $833,000 tomorrow. Those expenditures will pass by unanimous consent without discussion or review.
The Commissioners Court will approve contracts for the “Felony Defender” program for the coming Fiscal Year without discussion as well. That expenditure will approach $6 million and commit the Court to that expenditure in Fiscal Year 2021, which begins on October 1, 2020.
The Office of Court Administration is asking for new funding, without any suggested funding source (other than the beleaguered taxpayers) for:
- $131,560.05 for the new 457th District Court; and
- $88,691.20 for a new Associate Judge, Scott Wonderly, to serve in the 410th District Court.
The Commissioners Court will approve two change orders for road projects in Commissioners Precincts 1 and 2, totaling $197,177.25.
It appears that Commissioner Riley may well be the taxpayers’ only hope to restrain spending during the Tuesday meeting.