Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner busts ghosts, leads fight against excessive (almost ectoplasmic) spending, taxes at February 12 meeting

Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner busts ghosts, leads fight against excessive (almost ectoplasmic) spending, taxes at February 12 meeting

Image: Clearly, there’s a lot of similarity here. While Bill Murray and his team got rid of ectoplasm, Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner made some major strides on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, getting rid of some of the waste in the Montgomery County government.

Conroe, February 14 – To the visible anger of some bureaucratic Montgomery County government employees who wish to continue padding their departmental budgets with “ghost employees,” long-term vacant positions for which the citizens pay taxes but the departments only accumulate the tax dollars, Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner was an excessive-spending “buster” at the Tuesday, February 12, 2019, meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. There were three forms of excessive spending “ectoplasm” against which Noack successfully fought.

Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack fought excessive government spending (and ectoplasm) during the February 12, 2019, Commissioners Court meeting.

Ghost employees: long-term vacancies, savings $396,799.61

List of “ghost” employees, vacancies of 90 days or longer as of January 25, 2019. Source: Montgomery County Budget Office.

At the January 29, 2019, meeting of the Commissioners Court, Noack had wanted to sweep the funds for all positions vacant ninety (90) days or longer as of January 25. Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts agreed with him during the discussion.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough asked to defer that action to give department heads two weeks’ notice of the potential sweep of their salary funds.

On Tuesday, February 12, Noack again moved to sweep six of the nine positions in the foregoing chart which the Montgomery County Budget Office Director, Amanda Carter, had prepared. Keough seconded Noack’s motion to eliminate the positions.

All four positions were vacant well over ninety (90) days and included:

  • Library Coordinator – Programs, vacant 308 days, $68,716.52 total compensation;
  • Library Librarian, vacant 186 days, $64,756.80 total compensation;
  • Library Branch Manager, vacant 333 days, $78.415.69 total compensation;
  • Library Catalog Technician, vacant 116 days, $37,193.50 total compensation;
  • Environmental Registered Sanitarian, vacant 134 days, $57,561.60 total compensation; and
  • Elections Assistant Elections Administrator, vacant 134 days, $90,155.50 total compensation.

Obviously, all of the foregoing salaries and compensation levels were extremely high for government employees. A government librarian making $64,756.80? Really? Oh, come on.

The total annual savings came to $396,799.61.

County Treasurer Melanie Bush, Animal Control Director Aaron Johnson, and IT Co-Managers Chuck Cobb and Bobby Powell requested that the three positions in each of their respective departments remain available as those departments reorganize (except for Animal Control and the Animal Shelter, which is a constantly swelling bureaucracy with complete opacity to citizen review.)

The vote in favor of eliminating the “ghost” positions was unanimous.

Cancellation of Texas Conference of Urban Counties membership, savings $17,723

On the initiative and motion of Noack, the Commissioners Court unanimously voted to take a major step to rid Montgomery County taxpayers of the burden of paying enormous annual dues, $17,723 per year, to a pro-tax, anti-citizen, lobbying group, which disgraced liberal former County Judge Craig Doyal had foisted upon the Montgomery County government. Noack’s resolution was “Consider, discuss and take action on cancelling the Montgomery County membership to The Conference of Urban Counties.”

Noack explained in an exclusive interview with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, “I want us out of that organization. While many of us are trying to institute statewide property tax reform, this organization is working against the will of the citizens whom Montgomery County Commissioners Court member represent. We should immediately cancel our membership.”

The Texas Conference of Urban Counties sent a letter on February 8, 2019, indicating that the organization opposed Senate Bill 2, the main statewide property tax reform legislation pending in the Texas Senate.

The only objection came from Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, criminally indicated and always looking for ways to increase the property tax burden on Montgomery County citizens as an active member of another pro-tax group, Texas Association of Counties, who tried to argue that the County government needed the membership in order to utilize some Conference software. Chief of Staff Jason Millsaps confirmed that membership in the Conference was not necessary to use the software.

Judge Keough explained that he witnessed the Conference opposing statewide property tax reform when he served in the Texas Legislature as the State Representative for District 15 during the 2017 Legislative Session.

Resolution to Support Statewide Property Tax Reform

Noack moved in favor of a resolution to support statewide property tax reform, which passed the Commissioners Court unanimously.

WHEREAS, the State of Texas and Montgomery County have for years enacted and stood by policies to encourage economic freedom and growth, and those policies have succeeded in creating economic prosperity; and

WHEREAS, that economic prosperity has caused the value of property to increase, and therefore Texas property owners have seen multiple years of appraisal increases that have increased property tax collections even without a corresponding rise in tax rates; and

WHEREAS, State Senator Paul Bettencourt and State Representative Dustin Burrows have filed Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2, both would reduce the rollback rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent and require local elected officials to ask for voter approval any time the rollback rate is exceeded when adopted by the local taxing jurisdictions; and

WHEREAS, State Senator Brandon Creighton has authored along with several Senators SB 2, which would lower the rollback rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent and require automatic tax rate ratification elections if the rollback rate is exceeded when adopted by the local taxing jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, State Senator Brandon Creighton has filed Senate Bill 657, which would impose a Constitutional appraisal cap of 3 percent for properties with an appraisal value of less than one million dollars and 5 percent for properties with an appraisal value of over one million dollars.

WHEREAS, State Representative Cecil Bell has authored HB 878, which would lower the Constitutional appraisal cap from 10 percent to 5 percent; and

WHEREAS, State Representative Will Metcalf has authored HB 946, which would lower the Constitutional appraisal cap from 10 percent to 5 percent; and

WHEREAS, Governor Greg Abbott has declared this property tax relief to be an Emergency Item in the 86th Legislature, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Bonnen have expressed their strong support for passage of this legislation; and

WHEREAS, the property owners of Montgomery County have long asked for property tax relief such as this legislation can provide; and

WHEREAS, it is within the power of this Commissioners Court to support our state leaders in passing legislation to help our local property taxpayers and to keep the economic engine that powers Montgomery County and the State of Texas strong.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT DO HEREBY ENCOURAGE THE MEMBERS OF THE MONTGOMERY COUNTY STATE LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION AND THE MEMBERS OF THE 86TH LEGISLATURE TO PASS HOUSE BILL 2 OR SENATE BILL 2 IN ORDER TO PROVIDE DESERVED PROPERTY TAX RELIEF TO THE CITIZENS OF TEXAS.

The Office of County Judge shall forward a copy of this resolution to each member of the Texas Legislature representing any portion of Montgomery County, Texas.

PASSED AND APPROVED this 12th day of February, 2019.

Thanks to the work of Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack, many County government employees will no longer need to fear this terrible form of ectoplasm from ghosts.

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