The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, October 12 – Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough’s secrecy campaign has continued, this time with his placement of nearly $11.6 million of capital expenditures on the Commissioners Court agenda for the Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 9:30 a.m., meeting with no explanation and only a reference to line account numbers next to the massive proposed expenditures.
The agenda merely states, “Consider, discuss, and accept Capital Improvement Plan.” There is no backup with the exception of the one page which follows, which merely shows “Line Item Numbers” and fails to provide any explanation to the public or to the members of the Commissioners Court.
During the Craig Doyal era, when he served as County Judge, the agendas would always include some explanation for each proposed capital expenditure. Keough, however, has made secrecy the hallmark of his term as County Judge.
When this newspaper reached out to several high level County employees, include those inside the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office, no one had any idea what the Line Item Numbers are, which suggests that even members of the Commissioners Court will have no information to review before they’re asked to approve almost $11.6 million of expenditures. The one person who did know what the Line Item Numbers represent was Budget Director Amanda Carter, who kindly provided the information to this newspaper.
The full disclosure of the expenditures truly is more frightening than any haunted house at Halloween:
400-9100-750800-CP1001 – Commission Precinct 1 Park Improvements, additional $1,420,000.00 not allocated to any purpose.
400-9200-750800-CP2001 – Commissioner Precinct 2 Park Improvements, additional $1,420,000.00 not allocated to any purpose.
400-9300-750800-CP3001 – Ed Chance/South Annex Improvements, additional $1,420,000.00. Not surprisingly, Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack is the only member of the Commissioners Court who has provided specific information about where the additional funds are going.
400-9400-750800-CP4001 – Commissioner Precinct 4 Park Improvements, additional $1,420,000.00. not allocated to any purpose.
400-1903-750800-CP0015 – Enterprise Resource Planning. The Commissioners Court has allocated another $957,806.00 into the unusable Enterprise Resource Planning software for which the County taxpayers have already paid in excess of $17 million. The program is far more complex than the vast majority of County government employees could use or understand. It’s not user friendly at all. As a result, the County government lacks any realistically usable accounting program. That shows.
400-1903-750800-CP0002 – Motorola Project, additional $2,041,161.00 to standardize the dispatch system for 9-1-1 calls.
400-1903-750800-CP0021 – Forensics Center, additional $1,000,000.00 for Charlie Riley’s pet project, the Forensics Center, a completely unnecessary expenditure of funds. The vendor overdesigned and is overbuilding the structure to accommodate its anticipated needs in 2050. (Seriously.)
400-1903-750800-CP0018 – Jail A/C Projects, additional $80,000.00. The one County Department, which engages in zero-based budgeting, is the Sheriff’s Office. It shows in the reasonableness of this capital project request.
400-1903-750800-CP0032 – DA/IT Data Repository Project, additional $475,000.00 to preserve the District Clerk’s and County Clerk’s data, as Texas law requires.
400-1903-750600-CP0033 – Philips House Project, additional $350,000.00 to spend on a completely unnecessary new Tax Office on West Phillips Street. The first step is to move the historic Stewart law office.
400-1903-750800-CP0008 – County Wide Roof Project, additional $1,000,000. That’s a 49% cost overrun and typical for the terrible management in the Montgomery County government.