Riley, Commissioners Court raise tolls on money-losing TX 249 Tollroad (Decimation of Hope Highway), ignore citizen begging

Riley, Commissioners Court raise tolls on money-losing TX 249 Tollroad (Decimation of Hope Highway), ignore citizen begging

Image: Cindy Phillips begged the Montgomery County Commissioners Court not to raise tolls on the Decimation of Hope Highway, the money-losing 3 mile TX 249 Tollroad. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley swiftly made clear he had no intention whatsoever of paying any attention to her or to other citizen concerns.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, May 27 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court voted to raise tolls on the Decimation of Hope Highway, the $100 million money-losing tollroad the Commissioners Court constructed over the objection of the vast majority of local citizens as a means of raising taxes. By a 4 to 0 vote, the Commissioners Court – County Judge Mark Keough, Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Walker, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack – voted to increase the tolls by twenty-five percent (25%) to $1.25 for the three miles of road.

Noack and Keough only supported the increase in tolls, however, after the Court agreed to delay the increase until January 1, 2023.

Citizen Cindy Phillips implored the Commissioners Court not to raise tolls prior to the vote, because salaries are not increasing at the same rate as other inflation. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley made clear he would ignore her request.

The Montgomery County Toll Road Authority (MCTRA) continues to lose a fortune every year on its money-losing “Decimation of Hope Highway,” the moniker taxpayers dubbed the unpopular TX-249 Tollway. When the Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved their Consolidated Annual Financial Report (CAFR) on Tuesday, March 29, the five members, who also serve as MCTRA’s Board of Directors, had nothing whatsoever to celebrate.

Tollroad employee Robert Castaneda told the Commissioners Court “We’re required by policy to go up every year.” Neither Castaneda nor Riley provided any documentation during or prior to the meeting to support their contention that the Commissioners Court had a legal duty to increase the tolls.

Noack asked, “What happens if we do not vote to increase the toll?”

Keough noted, “We’re in the middle of a 6.5 inflation.” Keough questioned why raise the price at all without a full financial analysis.

The money-losing TX-249 extension runs 3.1 miles through Magnolia and delivers drivers essentially to nowhere at the Grimes County border where the road becomes a freeway.

The profit and loss statement, with an emphasis on the loss, from the Consolidated Annual Financial Report, which the Commissioners Court approved on March 29, appears at the end of this article. On $11.4 million of tolls, the money-losing Decimation of Hope Highway, showed an operating gain of $2.6 million after the cost of services and depreciation. Nevertheless, after the vast debt charges on payment of the bond debt, in the amount of $4.1 million, MCTRA actually lost $1,040,444.

When Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley and former County Judge Craig Doyal foisted the TX-249 Tollway on Montgomery County taxpayers in 2018, they assured them that the tollway would show positive cash flow each year in order to contribute funds towards other tollroad projects, which, of course, the citizens made clear they opposed. Instead, the Decimation of Hope Highway continues to be a significant financial drain.

Clearly, the tollway project has not come close to Riley’s and Doyal’s promises.

Operating loss statement for Montgomery County Toll Road Authority for Fiscal Year Ending September 20, 2021.

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