Image: Moody’s Investors Service upgrade notice for Montgomery County Texas to AAA rating as a result of massive property tax valuation increases and population growth. Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal has attempted to take credit for the AAA rating when the reality is that the AAA rating reflects massive tax and spending increases. Perhaps, for that, Doyal should take the blame.
Conroe, February 21 – Embattled and criminally indicted Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal has repeatedly bragged in his stump speeches, while running for re-election against conservative reformer State Representative Mark Keough, that Doyal takes credit for “achieving a AAA credit rating as a County, one of only a handful in the State.” It turns out that Doyal has nothing about which to brag. In fact, Doyal ought to feel shame for what’s he’s inflicted on the taxpayers of Montgomery County to result in that AAA credit rating.
How Moody’s came to upgrade Montgomery County’s bond credit rating
On November 4, 2016, Moody’s Investors Service announced that it had upgraded the bond credit rating of Montgomery County to a AAA credit rating. The vast majority of counties in Texas have a AA+ or AA rating.
In the formal announcement, a full copy of which is at the top of this article, Moody’s explained that the credit upgrade occurred primarily because of the “sizeable assessed valuation growth that surpasses national peers.” In other words, Montgomery County has successfully raised property tax valuations, through its out-of-control Montgomery Central Appraisal District (a majority of whom were members of the County Commissioners Court) faster than almost any other local government in the entire United States.
Moody’s credit upgrade didn’t arise from good stewardship or management of the County’s operations. Of course, that didn’t happen. Rather, the upgrade occurred, because the Montgomery County government has gotten away with massive property tax increases while citizens didn’t do anything to complain about them.
During Doyal’s stewardship of Montgomery County, County government spending has grown 428% while population growth has only increased 84%. During the past ten years, total tax increases have been 197% from the Montgomery County government. Montgomery County’s taxpayers are now paying more than twice what they paid in property taxes only ten years ago.
Therefore, Moody’s was certainly correct that property tax valuation growth has surpassed the “national peers” of Montgomery County. Doyal and his colleagues on the Commissioners Court have placed people, such as Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and former Precinct 3 County Commissioner Ed Chance, on the Appraisal District who would raise taxes as rapidly as possible. As Keough has said, they have “punished the people who made this County grow by raising tax appraisals on people who have lived and worked here for many years.”
Other components to the Moody’s upgrade
While the main reason for the Moody’s credit upgrade was property tax appraisal growth and that the citizens slept while Doyal and his colleagues raised spending and taxation massively, there is another component of the credit upgrade that is significant, according to the investment spokesman who presented the upgrade news in the Commissioners Court: population growth. The great natural beauty of Montgomery County, its proximity to Houston, East Texas, Lake Conroe, and Texas A&M University have made all of Montgomery County a very desirable place to live. Outstanding real estate developments from private businessmen including George Mitchell (The Woodlands), Bruce Belin (April Sound and Bentwater), and Danny Signorelli (Valley Ranch) have spurred the population growth as well.
Doyal had nothing whatsoever to do with the population growth of Montgomery County.
Doyal’s claim of credit for the AAA credit rating is another one of Doyal’s propaganda manipulations, just like his taking credit for passage of the 20% homestead exemption against which Doyal fought.