Montgomery County Commissioners Court passes “historic” Budget, Noack asks “After hearing that [citizen comment], I wonder what the temperature in Hell is?”

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough chuckled during the Wednesday, September 4, 2019, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court after Commissioner James Noack made his comment about “Hell.”

Conroe, September 5 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court passed an historic Fiscal Year 2020 Budget in the amount of $336,572,225 with a $0.4475 per $100 valuation tax rate. The budget was historic, because it was the first time in history when the Commissioners Court adopted a budget at the “effective tax rate” or less. Last year’s budget was $344,381,573, with a $0.4667 per $100 valuation tax rate.

The “effective tax rate” is the property tax rate at which, despite, increased property tax appraisals, the amount of the taxes the average taxpayer would pay would remain the same. The vote in favor of the Budget and the tax rate was unanimous among the five members of the Commissioners Court – Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, and Precinct 4 County Commissioner James Metts.

Before the members of the Commissioners Court adopted the Budget and the tax rate, they held a public hearing at which only one citizen from the public spoke.

This citizen spoke to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Wednesday, September 5, 2019.

The citizen spoke positively about all five members of the Commissioners Court, which was unusual, because in the past his remarks have sometimes been less than complimentary. The citizen’s entire comments to the Commissioners Court follow.

“The reason I’m here today is I want to thank the five of you and Ms. Carter and Mr. Pandey for the Budget. About five years ago in June of 2014, I was in the Alaska Range. After a full day of climbing, we summited what is called Kahiltna Dome and is 12,411 feet high. The leader of our group had fallen in a crevasse during the day, so we had some excitement. But we got him out of the crevasse and we summited. We felt like we were at the top of the world. Then we turned to the east and we saw the mountain right next door to us, which happened to be Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America at 20,310 feet elevation. We all felt like midgets.

“I think that’s a good analogy to where we are in Montgomery County, because what y’all did is something that a lot of political activists, like Jon Bouche, Kelli Cook, John Wertz, Bill O’Sullivan, Reagan Reed, and many other people from all four Commissioner Precincts have asked you to do, and that is to set a great example. You.

“That’s why I’m here to thank you today, because one of the arguments a lot of people have made to this Commissioners Court is that, even though you’re only about 20% of our tax bill, or even less than that, it’s like 17%, the reality is that y’all are the people we look to for leadership. You did pass a budget, and I know you’re going to go through the formality of it today of passing an ‘effective tax rate budget.’

“The impact of that is something that we’re already beginning to see. Conroe ISD followed your example. They weren’t going to at the beginning. The Woodlands Township is now debating whether they need to follow your example as well and pass an ‘effective tax rate’ budget. The Montgomery County Hospital District is doing example the same thing. They’re striving to pass an ‘effective tax rate’ budget.

“What it’s shown is, despite the argument that’s been made in the past, that y’all are only 17% of our tax bill, and some parts of the County even smaller than that, what you do is extremely important.

“It’s not only important to Montgomery County, because some of you, and I know that Judge Keough in particular,  have not enjoyed the nomenclature that’s in The Golden Hammer newspaper about where Montgomery County stands with respect to the rest of the State.

“I want Montgomery County, which is my home and a wonderful place to live, I want us to be the Mount McKinley (Denali) of not only Texas but all of America. I think that by the leadership that you’re showing, we going to move in that direction.

“I truly want to thank the five of you, Commissioner Metts, Commissioner Noack, Judge Keough, Commissioner Riley, and Commissioner Meador, Ms. Carter [Amanda Carter, the Budget Director], and Mr. Pandey [County Auditor Rakesh Pandey], even though he’s missing all of his hair right now, I want to thank all of you for your work on this Budget truly. It has shown great leadership.

“You’re moving us across the Kahiltna Glacier up towards Mount Denali’s summit.

“Thank you very much.”

Commissioner James Noack immediately remarked in response to the citizen comment, “After hearing that, I wonder what the temperature in Hell is?” Precinct 2 Commissioner Riley then said, “We’re in the Twilight Zone.”

The Court then adopted the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget and the tax rate of $0.4475 per $100 valuation, consisting of $0.3329 per $100 valuation for the General Fund, $0.0486 for the Road and Bridge Fund, and $0.0660 per $100 valuation for the Debt Service fund.

Keough, Noack, and Metts expressed how happy they were with the cohesiveness of the Commissioners Court under County Judge Mark Keough’s leadership.

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