Image: At the January 23, 2018, Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC candidate debate for Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner, incumbent Charlie Riley (left) turned beet red while challengers Brian Dawson (center) and Gregory Parker (right) kept their emotions in check.
The Woodlands, January 28 – During the Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC candidate debates for their respective March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election contests, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley told some big lies. Riley seemed to lose control of his emotions several times during the forum, as he turned beet red and raised his voice in anger on several occasions during the January 23, 2018, event.
Most of the big lies came from the mouth of Doyal, but Riley began the evening with some of his own.
Riley’s big lie #1: government spending as much as the taxes the County government can collect
The moderator asked, “What commitments will you make to voters to eliminate property tax increases?
Dawson answered, “We need to work towards the effective tax rate. Taxpayers shouldn’t experience perpetual tax increases every year. We’re taxing people out of their homes. It’s the absolute wrong way to develop the budget by saying here’s the tax rate; how much money do we have to spend?”
Parker explained, “We need zero-based budgeting and to require department heads to justify every line item in their budgets. We should start 2 cents under the effective tax rate in the budget process. Then you’ll cut spending and start at that amount. That way you’ll give citizens of Montgomery County tax relief.”
Riley’s Big Lie: “Every year we go into our budget hearings and talk to the departments. We don’t call [Tax Assessor-Collector] Tammy McRae and ask her how much money she’s going to gather for us.”
The Truth: Before the Commissioners Court issued the official recommended budget on August 30, 2017, that they voted to adopt on September 5, 2017, the Commissioners Court heard a report from Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae at least two times in the Commissioners Court precisely on how much money she projected she would collect during Fiscal Year 2018, which began October 1, 2017. Those two occasions were February 14, 2017, when McRae first presented her projections of tax collections for Fiscal Year 2018, and July 27, 2017, during the so-called “budget hearings” when she made a formal presentation so the Commissioners Court would know how much to spend in new salaries on Friday, July 28, 2017.
At the conclusion of the “budget hearings” on July 28, 2017, the Commissioners Court realized that it had not spent all of the money which McRae had projected the County government would receive in taxes, so the Commissioners Court created a new department and funded it with placeholder funds in order to ensure that tax collections would remain as high as Riley and his colleagues had projected.
Riley’s big lie #2: Woodlands Parkway Extension
The Truth: Please see “Montgomery County Commissioner Riley, County Judge Doyal Confirm Their Support Of Woodlands Parkway Extension During Patriots PAC Debates, Despite Doyal’s Angry Outburst 9 Hours Earlier Claiming The Contrary,” The Golden Hammer, January 24, 2018, for a full discussion of Riley’s big lie about the Woodlands Parkway Extension during the January 23 debate.
Doyal’s big lie #1: Doyal and state property tax reform
The moderator asked about property tax levels in Montgomery County.
State Representative Mark Keough who is challenging Doyal in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election for Montgomery County Judge explained, “We couldn’t get the changes done. I don’t believe that state really wants change. It starts at the top with the Commissioners and the Judge.”
Doyal’s Big Lie: “We’re not playing with your money. We’re pretty serious with your money. I drafted a resolution asking for real property tax reform but you [referring to Keough] couldn’t get it done. The Legislature didn’t do anything about school funding.”
The Truth: On February 14, 2017, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court rejected a 20% homestead exemption on a 2-5 vote, despite a standing-room-only crowd of citizens who spoke in favor of the measure. Doyal expressed his desire to increase County government spending. The Commissioners then enacted a 10% homestead exemption for which Doyal tried to take the credit.
The vote on the 20% homestead exemption was:
The next item on the agenda was a resolution, which Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark had authored and placed on the meeting agenda, to support Senator Bettencourt’s legislative efforts to bring about meaningful property tax reform. Doyal tried to blame school districts for high government spending. Since the resolution, which Noack had authored, was nonbinding, it passed unanimously.
What Doyal failed to disclose to the citizens of Montgomery County was that he had already gone to Austin specifically to join his cohorts at the Texas Association of Counties and the Texas Municipal League to lobby against property tax reform. Doyal and Montgomery County Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae took a trip to Austin on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, while the Legislature was in session. They met with State Representative Mark Keough who represents District 15, which is wholly within Montgomery County. Keough knew that McRae was coming to meet with him and discovered that Doyal accompanied her.
Doyal complained to Keough about Keough’s bill that would have placed a 5% cap on property tax increases. Doyal told Keough, “we can’t afford to do something like that.” Doyal also discussed the proposal under discussion among conservative political activists in Montgomery County to place a 20% homestead property tax exemption on taxation by the Montgomery County government. “I don’t think we can afford it and I can’t support it,” Doyal told Keough.
Doyal’s big lie #2: Tx 249 Tollway
In response to a question about the proposed Tx 249 Tollway, Keough criticized Doyal the fact that he “lobbied in favor of a tollroad” instead of a free road for the Tx 249 extension project through Montgomery County. Keough noted that the Grimes County Commissioners Court lobbied against a tollroad, so “little Grimes County will get a free road.”
Doyal’s Big Lie: “We didn’t lobby for a tollroad. We lobbied for a road. TxDOT told us that only way it would be built was with a toll component.”
The Truth: On June 29, 2017, Doyal appeared before TxDOT’s policy commission in Austin and lied to them that “Montgomery County is unified in support” behind tolling the Tx-249 extension. Doyal wanted TxDOT to build the road as a tollroad so the County could finance the 4.5 mile portion from Spring Creek to Pinehurst, which Doyal wanted to use to funnel money to his vendor supporters, through the issuance of revenue bonds supported by tolls, which would not require a voter referendum.