Montgomery County Commissioners Court, Riley, Meador, Metts violate Texas Constitution by illegally funding private nonprofit corporations, ignore Noack’s brilliant suggestion

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, the “People’s Judge,” shown here on July 31, 2019, during the second day of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court’s Budget Workshop, moved the County government towards more control over spending. Sadly, on the issue of nonprofit corporation funding, the Commissioners Court didn’t move far enough.

Conroe, August 5 – The Texas Constitution – and numerous Texas Attorney General Opinions – could not be more clear: it is against Texas law for a County government or a city to provide tax dollars to private nonprofit corporations and foundations. Nevertheless, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court – and three of its Commissioners, Mike Meador, Charlie Riley, and James Metts, in particular – are blatantly violating Texas law by shoveling hundreds of thousands of dollars to private entities, such as the Veterans Memorial Commission and others.

Article 11, Section 3, of the Texas Constitution provides:

“No county, city, or other municipal corporation shall hereafter become a subscriber to the capital of any private corporation or association, or make any appropriation or donation to the same, or in anywise loan its credit; but this shall not be construed to in any way affect any obligation heretofore undertaken pursuant to law or to prevent a county, city, or other municipal corporation from investing its funds as authorized by law.”

That provision has been a part of the Texas Constitution since November 7, 1989, when voters approved it in a statewide referendum.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and several of his predecessors have made clear in Texas Attorney General Opinions that county governments and cities simply may not donate or appropriate tax dollars to private corporations or associations, whether they are nonprofit or not. The one exception to the rule is that there is one Attorney General Opinion which permitted a municipal corporation to allow its credit to provide for a loan to a private nonprofit corporation.

During the first day of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court’s Budget Workshop, on Monday, July 29, 2019, several citizens complained about the County government spending public tax dollars for nonprofit corporations of the Court’s political choice.

Billy Graff, a Marine and the President of a nonprofit foundation who is running for Precinct 1 County Commissioner in the March 3, 2019, Republican Primary Election, spoke to the Commissioners Court that nonprofits, such as the Veteran Memorial Commission, should not seek government funding but only community funding. “Worthy nonprofits can work without government subsidy. You on the Commissioners Court, should leave charity work to individuals constituents and only spend our tax dollars on core government purposes.”

In response to Graff’s and other citizens’ comments, Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack suggested that he would only support payments to nonprofits on a “per-service basis.” In actuality, Noack was right on the mark as far as what the Commissioners Court legally could do.

Unfortunately, the Commissioners Court instead voted to give a fortune of public tax dollars to private nonprofit corporations or associations:

  • $109,562 to Montgomery County Emergency Assistance, a private nonprofit corporation;
  • $6,250 to Montgomery County Women’s Center, a private nonprofit corporation;
  • $135,000 to Montgomery County Committee on Aging;
  • $10,000 to Access Builds Children;
  • $150,000 to Veterans Memorial Commission, a private nonprofit corporation

The $150,000 to the Veterans Memorial Commission is not coming out of general funds but still is coming from tax dollars within the road and bridge budgets of Meador ($75,000), Riley ($50,000), and Metts ($25,000), all illegal payments to a private nonprofit corporation.

Now gay rights activist Jay Stittleburg and his public relations consultant Margie Taylor have begun to criticize the all-Republican Commissioners Court for reducing payments to nonprofits. In actuality, the Commissioners Court should – legally – eliminate all of those payments entirely.

Margie Taylor provided the following comment after this article first published: “I’m not Jay’s PR Consultant, nor have I ever been. My voice is my own through friendships of the CEOs. I am supporting NPO that are losing 3x the amount you see with matching funds. I have worked hand and hand with the orgs as a staff member and volunteer. Neither of you [The Golden Hammer‘s Publisher and Brian Dawson] know the entire story. I was just asking for support for them. Many additional NPOs I support- but those were the named ones with much to lose. Please stop this.”

 

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