Conroe, May 14 – With greed as the ultimate source of heat and pressure, Montgomery County government spending is on the verge of eruption, because the Commissioners Court has failed to oversee or budget for 25 years (despite the efforts of individuals, such as former County Judge Alan B. Sadler to impose some controls.) For a quarter of a century, the Commissioners Court has adopted completely arbitrary numbers to increase spending as rapidly as possible.
The agenda for the May 14, 2019, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court reflects the obvious concern of several County Departments and elected servants that citizen protests over exorbitant property taxation have resulted in the genuine need to reduce spending rather than increase it. Therefore, it’s clear the County government is seeking to add a hard rock strata of spending underlying the failure of the County government to increase the quantity or quality of services.
Take Charlie Riley’s Commissioners Precinct 2, as an example. Riley and his predecessor Craig Doyal have managed and controlled Commissioners Precinct 2 since 2002, 17 years. The amount of money they’ve spent on their own salaries, on their payroll, and on related expenses for the Precinct 2 office has exploded.
Services in Precinct 2 have actually declined. Riley and Doyal never addressed basic road problems. The roads in Commissioners Precinct 2 look as though they’re in Mexico. Riley and Doyal failed to make any sort of mobility plans over two decades. Traffic jams dominate the Precinct 2 landscape even in the middle of the day when there is no rush hour traffic.
With the Commissioners Court doing such a poor job providing services, one might expect that the upcoming May 14 meeting would include a serious effort to reduce expenditures rather than increase them. Greed and a complete lack of care for the citizens of Montgomery County who suffer the forced confiscation of taxation clearly are the driving forces.
The agenda for the May 14 meeting reflects little, if any, increase in service but enormous increases in expenses to the taxpayers.
Payment of Accounts
The largest spending item the Commissioners Court will approve will be the so-called “payment of accounts,” $16,296,936.64. None of the Commissioners will have a clue what’s in those payments nor will they ask one question. This agenda item is always the core of County government spending yet it receives no review.
Some of the highlights follow.
Engineer John Holzwarth who duplicates the services of the salaried County Engineer will receive $4,569.
Graves Humphries, the law firm which, along with Commissioner James Metts, assured the Commissioners Court and the taxpayers that they’d provide free software along with their fine and fee collection services, is charging County taxpayers $30,000 for software!
Taxpayer funded lobbyist Rob Eissler, who isn’t doing anything for the County government, will receive $4,000 in payments half from each of Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack.
So-called Budget Amendments
The Information Technology Department has requested $269,000 out of the slush fund the department has accumulated from previous budgets for maintenance items, some software, and some hardware. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley is pulling $25,119.86 out of his off-budget slush fund to spend for maintenance and equipment with no additional explanation.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack is pulling $300,000 budgeted for equipment and major road projects to spend on the purchase of vehicles instead. Noack is also pulling $4,572,501.70 from his slush fund to spend on major projects, sign maintenance, professional services, and equipment rental.
Purchasing decisions in Montgomery County continue to occur mostly in the dark.
There are 26 purchasing contracts totaling over $3 million which will receive no contract review from the members of the Commissioners Court.
The Commissioners Court will create a new position, Medicolegal Death Investigator, with an annual salary of $54,665.02 and $28,937.02 in benefits, even though we’re in the middle of the Budget Year. Obviously, this decision will lock taxpayers into funding this position next year.
Bright light: County Treasurer
County Treasurer Melanie Pryor Bush is, at no expense whatsoever to the taxpayers, reorganizing some of the functions and positions in her office.
Always eager to spend other people’s money, Library Director Jerilynne Williams wants the Commissioner Court to reinstate a position she had left vacant for several months, Librarian II – Electronic Services, and force the taxpayers to pay an additional $71,753.82 per fiscal year.
County Engineer waste
Interestingly, nowhere on the agenda is there mention of the retirement of County Attorney Mark Mooney or discussions to appoint his replacement. The County Engineer’s Office has requested an expenditure of $1,292 for “safety measures.” It’s unclear why the County Engineer’s Office would feel so unsafe.