Image: Spending versus population. Data from U.S. Census Bureau, Montgomery County Office of County Auditor. Artwork and data compilation from Yollick Law Firm.
Conroe, June 11 – The Montgomery County government’s spending has grown explosively since 2000. Taxation has grown with the spending. Massive property taxes have begun to harm home and land sales and have given Montgomery County a terrible reputation for some of the worst property taxes in the State of Texas.
In Fiscal Year 2017, the County government’s Official Budget includes $377 million of expenditures. In actuality, the amount spent will be approximately $50 million more from “slush fund” expenditures. In Fiscal Year 2000, Montgomery County’s Budget was $89 million. That’s a 424% increase! During the same time period, the County’s population only grew 84%. As Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack has noted, one would expect economies of scale during growth like that. Instead, under County Judge Craig Doyal, there actually have been the inverse of economies of scale, because neither Doyal nor his allies, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, have taken any action to manage the County’s government operations.
There are several criteria by which one could measure the spending growth of Montgomery County. All reveal the disastrous nature of the uncontrolled government spending. Two of the criteria come from the mouth of Doyal. Three come from the Republican Party, an organization apparently offensive to Doyal and his cohorts. One of the sets of criteria come from a group of local conservative activists who formed a Citizens Budget Committee in January, 2017, and will present a detailed report over the next few weeks.
Doyal’s first measure: comparing Montgomery County spending growth to the federal government’s growth. In a campaign advertisement during the 2014 Republican Primary Election, Doyal complained “spending in Washington is out of control; in Texas we do things differently.”
Sadly, Doyal is right on both counts. Spending in Washington, D.C., for the federal government is completely out of control. In Fiscal Year 2000, the United States Government Budget included expenditures of $1.789 trillion dollars. The Fiscal Year 2017 Budget for the United States Government is $4.147 trillion dollars. That’s a 232% increase in spending in only 17 years!
The problem, however, is that Doyal is correct. Montgomery County under Doyal’s leadership is even more “out of control” than federal government spending. During the same time period when the federal budget increased 232%, Montgomery County’s budget increased 424%. In other words, we do, indeed, do things differently. The Montgomery County government’s spending increases have been far worse than those of the federal government.
Doyal’s definition of “fiscal conservative”: spending increases under a ceiling of population growth plus inflation.
Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal issued a directive on February 6, 2017, to all Montgomery County elected officials and department heads to “keep our county budget growth in line with the growth of the county’s population and inflation.” The written directive also mentioned that Doyal personally was offering taxpayers property tax relief “to assist as they struggle with rising property values on their homes.” Doyal claimed that the definition of a “fiscal conservative” was someone who held the growth of government spending to the rate of population growth plus inflation.
By Doyal’s definition of a “fiscal conservative,” Craig Doyal must be a screaming Marxist.
In order to ascertain inflation, the most commonly accepted source is the United States Consumer Price Index, or CPI, which the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics promulgates monthly and annually. In order to ascertain population growth (“Pop Growth”), the United States Bureau of the Census publishes annual numbers for the population of Montgomery County. The Government Growth Delta (“GGD”) is the CPI plus the Pop Growth:
CPI + Pop Growth = GGD.
GGD should reflect the maximum growth of the Montgomery County government.
Here are the numbers:
|Year||CPI (%)||Pop Growth (%)||GGD (%)||Population||Spending|
|Actual Spending Increase (%)||What Spending|
Should Be ($ millions)*
*The “What Spending Should Be” column only represents what the spending should have been under the maximum growth formula acceptable to Republican voters. In other words, if a County government were to increase its spending by the maximum amount allowable under the Republican Proposition #2, the maximum County Budget would have been that amount. (The reader should not that the County Information Technology Department and County Auditor made a substantial mistake in calculating the total Fiscal Year 2017 expenditure budget, which The Golden Hammer caught in an earlier edition. In actuality, total Fiscal Year 2017 spending is $377 million.)
The table reveals that during the last seven fiscal years, from 2011 to 2017, Montgomery County government spending has increased $54 million more than the maximum growth that Doyal stated in his own definition. For Fiscal Year 2016, County Judge Craig Doyal and the County Commissioners grew spending at more than double the maximum acceptable rate.
County Republican Executive Committee. On February 28, 2017, the County GOP Executive Committee, composed of all of the Republican Precinct Chairs, voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for significant reductions in County government spending, increases in law enforcement funding, and a 20% homestead exemption.
Doyal’s February 6, 2017, directive to County Departments contradicted the policy and principles of the local Republican Party.
Two referenda of Republican Primary voters: 2010 and 2012. On March 2, 2010, Republican Primary Election voters went to the polls in Montgomery County and voted on a nonbinding referendum:
“Ballot Proposition #2: Controlling Government Growth
“Every government body in Texas should be required to limit any annual increase in its budget and spending to the combined increase of population and inflation unless it first gets voter approval to exceed the allowed annual growth or in the case of an official emergency.”
Ballot Proposition #2 passed with 94% of the voters approving the referendum. Two years later, on March 6, 2012, Texas held its primary election. In the Republican Primary, voters passed a statewide referendum identical to Montgomery County’s Ballot Proposition #2, also with 94% of the voters voting “for” the proposition.
Since Fiscal Year 2010, the County government has increased spending more than $50 million above the ceilings which Republican Primary voters approved at the ballot box.
Citizens Budget Committee. In January, 2017, a group of local conservative activists formed a Citizens Budget Committee in response to the willful disregard of the County Commissioners Court towards Montgomery County taxpayers who desperately want to reduce County government spending. The goal of the Citizens Budget Committee is actually very close to the 2010 and 2012 Republican Primary referenda each of which passed with 94% of the vote.
The Citizens Budget Committee seeks a $100 million spending reduction in non-law enforcement County departments with an increase in law enforcement and the road and bridge capital fund of $40 million, for a net $60 million spending reduction.
The County’s budget “hearings” will occur during the last week of July. Last year, the Commissioners Court disallowed any citizen participation during the so-called “public hearings,” in violation of the Texas Local Government Code.