Montgomery County Commissioner Metts’ staff gets in tiff over which Commissioner should get credit for Court’s September 8 no new tax vote

Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack, shown here during the August 1, 2019, Budget Workshop, urged his colleagues to reduce numerous spending items in order to pass a Budget at or below the current level of taxation in Montgomery County.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, New Caney, and The Woodlands, September 10 – A brawl erupted on social media between the staff of Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts and Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, who spoke for himself. The dispute erupted on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, after the Commissioners Court voted to adopt a tax rate and Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, which slightly – almost imperceptibly – lowered taxes for County taxpayers who are suffering from the government-inflicted economic downturn, which arose after the local County Judge, Mark Keough, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott started to panic over the Chinese Coronavirus and order business and church closures for fear of the virus.

At the September 8 Commissioners Court meeting, Noack and Keough initially voted to adopt a tax rate of 43.19 cents per $100 valuation, which was the “no new revenue tax rate” or “effective tax rate,” meaning the level which would have kept taxation at the same level as during the current fiscal year. As in two previous votes, the Noack motion died on a two (Noack, Keough), to three (Commissioner Charlie Riley, Metts, and Commissioner Mike Meador) vote.

In what was obviously an orchestrated plan prior to the meeting among the three liberals, Riley, Metts, and Meador, Riley then moved to adopt a 43.12 cents per $100 valuation tax rate and move $5.5 million out of the County government’s fund balance to make up the budget shortfall. No one should blame Riley for moving to adopt a lower tax rate, especially after he had voted three times against anything other than raising taxes. But Riley should have made clear that he was actually adopting a suggestion Noack had previously made to use funds from the County government’s fund balance.

Instead, Riley and now Metts are seeking to take the credit for an ever-so-slight tax reduction.

After the meeting, Noack issued a press release which read as follows:

“Noack, Commissioners Court lower tax rate for FY 2021

“SPRING – Today, Montgomery County Commissioners Court adopted a property tax rate of 43.12 cents per $100 valuation, an amount even lower than the no-new-revenue rate.

“Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack led the push for the court to adopt a rate lower than the no-new-revenue rate. He supplied the court with multiple budget options that would allow for this, and ultimately Commissioner Charlie Riley agreed to move forward with a lower tax rate.

“‘After an extremely tough year on our local economy due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I am ecstatic that Commissioners Court sought to provide relief to residents by lowering the tax rate 3.65 percent from the prior year,’ Commissioner Noack said.”

After Noack rightfully took credit for the hard work in getting a budget passed which didn’t raise taxes on local citizens, Metts’ Community Relations staff member Jean Ellen Mann chimed in, by attacking Noack along with the former Publisher of this newspaper (for some inexplicable reason):

Screen shot of Commissioner Metts’ employee’s comments on social media, September 8, 2020.

Jean Ellen Mann’s comment about the “effective tax rate” constituting a tax increase doesn’t make any sense, of course. The “effective tax rate” or “no new revenue tax rate” is the tax rate at which local taxpayers’ tax bills would not increase, despite increases in home property tax valuations. That’s the reason the “effective tax rate” is usually a lower tax rate than the current tax rate, since property tax valuations always seem to increase.

Mann, a full-time County government employee who writes propaganda for Metts on the taxpayers’ dime, then added,

Screen shot of County government employee Jean Ellen Mann’s mis-statement regarding the “effective tax rate” on September 8.

Combative Precinct 4 County employee Greg Long, who supposedly oversees parks and recreation for Metts, then went on the attack against Noack directly:

Screen shot of County employee Greg Long’s social media post attacking James Noack on September 8.

Noack then responded to Long by noting that Noack speaks for himself, while Metts allegedly hides behind his staff:

Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack’s social media post in response to Commissioner Metts’ staff attack posts, September 8, 2020.

The bottom line is that Noack proposed several spending reductions, including one quite complex one involving defeasance of some of the County government’s bond debt, in order to reduce spending to a level which allowed for the tax rate the Commissioners Court eventually adopted. Utilizing funds from the fund balance was also Noack’s suggestion at the August 21, 2020, Commissioners Court meeting. Riley didn’t want to discuss that idea on August 21, however. Rather, he chose to make that proposal his own on September 8.

No one, including Noack, Keough, or anyone else for that matter – other than Jean Ellen Mann apparently – ever even discussed the idea of defunding law enforcement.

No one should fault Riley, Metts, or Meador for voting – eventually – for a tax rate which didn’t raise taxes. They, along with County taxpayers, however, should thank Noack and his colleagues for getting the job done.

As to whom should get the credit for the no new taxes budget? The answer is clear: the citizens who vigilantly and actively campaigned against the proposed tax increase, for which Riley, Metts, and Meador voted three times before finally succumbing to the will of the people.

 




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