Conroe, February 25 – Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough has placed “Payment of Accounts,” a $15,678,077.92 spending item on the “open agenda” for the second meeting in a row under his leadership. It’s an important move, because it provides the members of the Commissioners Court with the incentive and the opportunity to begin to ask questions about how the County government spends the taxpayers’ money.
Unless members of the Commissioners Court begin to ask those questions, however, Keough’s move of this agenda item to the open part of Commissioners Court meeting is merely hollow. It’s time for Keough and his colleagues to begin to ask questions about the $15 million approximately of tax dollars which County bureaucrats spend every two weeks, so the citizens may hear the truth. Relying on a citizen to try to cover an 88-page report with $15.7 million of expenditures during a three-minute citizen comment is unrealistic, unfair, and a dereliction of duty by the five members of the Court.
The reason we elected a County Judge and four County Commissioners is to represent the citizens. That’s precisely what they should do.
Here’s a sample of some questions Keough and his colleagues should ask in the open before the eyes and ears of the citizens:
- Why is the County government paying the National Forest $12,420.84 out of the taxpayers’ general fund?
- Could the County Auditor begin to provide a separate report with each Commissioners Court meeting which details the expenditures on the County government’s Citibank credit card, often totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars?
- The County’s taxpayers are paying Graves Humphries law firm $31,421.65 supposedly to collect fees and fines for the Justice of the Peace Courts Precincts 1, 2, 4, and 5, but their rate of collection is strikingly less than the collections of the one JP Court which doesn’t use them, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Matt Beasley. Why is the County continuing to pay Graves Humphries to do a job which is actually losing the taxpayers’ money? Additionally, the advocates of the Graves Humphries collection system – corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport and two of his clients within the Davenport Ring – assured the Commissioners Court that the County government would receive the NetData software for free as part of the program. Why is the County having to pay several thousand dollars out of the Courtroom Technology Fund for NetData?
- Who is Edward Bailey and why is he receiving payments from so many different County Departments?
- After suffering through the Phonoscope fiber optic cable scandal where the Davenport Ring foisted that system on the County government supposedly for free (“free” costing around $300,000), why is the County government now paying WaveMedia for fiber optic cable installation?
- Do Lowes, Staples, Sherwin Williams, and O’Reilly Auto Parts provide the County government with government discounts? Why not?
- Why is the Building Maintenance Department paying several thousand dollars to Voss Electric when the County government has a licensed Master Electrician on staff?
- What did the Jail purchase from Amazon.com?
- What are all of the small payments to Planet Ford and why are those amounts not covered under warranty plans?
- TJ Knox is under investigation for a possible civil rights violation. Knox is not a County employee. Why is the Precinct 4 Constable paying him any money?
- Given how high County salaries are in relation to the private sector, why does the County government provide free bottled water to County employees?
- Since the County government now has a mosquito abatement operation, why is the Commissioner Precinct 1 paying thousands of dollars to North West Pest?
- Are the $4,000 of payments to Rob Eissler taxpayer-funded lobbying? (Kelli Cook would provide the same services to the County government for free, just as she does for the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.)
- The Precinct 4 (East Montgomery County) Commissioner is paying Waller County $13,213.80. Why would a Commissioners Precinct that isn’t even adjacent to Waller County be paying them tax dollars?
- What is the $1,562.44 payment to a photographer?
- Were there competitive bids for all of the road and bridge expenditures? Were the prices fair and as low as possible? They constitute more than $2,000,000, so why doesn’t the Commissioners Court look very closely at each one of those expenditures to demand answers to those questions?
- $6,953.58 in payments to outside engineering John Holzwarth for duplicating the job duties of salaried County Engineer Mark Mooney. What does Holzwarth do that Mooney and his team of salaried engineers can’t do?