Image: Harris County Commissioner “Cactus Jack” Cagle (center in white shirt) with Houston engineer Giti Zarinkelk (lady in blue jacket) and unidentified Harris County employees, posing so they look as though they’re doing engineering and road work, while actually contemplating all of the money they’ll make off of the Montgomery County Tx-249 Tollway.
Conroe, October 15 – While the full costs of the Tx-249 extension project to Montgomery County are actually a whole lot more, The Golden Hammer obtained documents showing just what the direct out-of-pocket expenditures have been to County taxpayers for the estimated $73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx-249 Tollway so far during the era of Craig Doyal as Montgomery County Judge and Charlie Riley as Precinct 2 County Commissioner. While Doyal and Riley keep arguing that their unpopular Tollway will have revenue bond financing eventually, an extremely expensive method of financing that most careful governmental bodies seek to avoid, the reality is that County taxpayers are out-of-pocket $10,616,331.15 just since January 1, 2015, when the two big-spenders came into office.
The $10,616,331.15 is not some bond fund, accounting gimmick, or theoretical fund. It’s real general revenue tax dollars that they’ve forced Montgomery County taxpayers to pay for the project.
The secret cache of documents shows payments as follows just between January 1, 2015, and September 30, 2017, from the taxpayers of Montgomery County to the vendors, largely made up of close friends, political contributors, and Doyal criminal legal defense fund donors.
Muller Law Group, $136,170.00, lawyer who has become Doyal’s main Tollway spokesman.
Halff Associates, Inc., $1,988,805.30, “project manager,” engineering firm of Doyal’s best friend Bobby Jack Adams, close ties to SJRA, major political contributor and campaign organizer, golf buddy, designated driver for social events such as other political contributors’ weddings. Leading organizer of Doyal’s criminal legal defense fund that hired criminal defense lawyer Rusty Hardin. Since the engineering firms who are vendors are also responsible for providing their own project management and since the County Commissioners Court has the duty to oversee and manage any road project, the $2 million “project management” payment to Halff Associates, Inc., would seem a nice gift.
Landtech, Inc., $297,354.84, surveyors, major Doyal-Riley political contributors.
Restoration Systems, $2,527,500.00, environmental consulting firm.
Geotest Engineering, $100,298.00, engineering firm, Doyal-Riley political contributors.
SWCA, Inc., $138,064.47, environmental consulting firm, Doyal-Riley political contributors.
Aguirre & Fields, $1,533,316.00, engineering firm, hit jackpot on Tollway, major Doyal-Riley contributors.
Jones & Carter Engineering, $1,487,526.90, engineering firm, hit jackpot on Tollway, major Doyal-Riley contributors, social media trolls, regularly attends Commissioners Court to watch over its investment (Doyal).
Brown & Gay Engineering, $831,466.24, engineering firm, major Doyal-Riley political contributors.
Giti Zarinkelk, $173,250.00, engineering firm, Doyal-Riley political contributor.
CDM Smith, Inc., $65,657.74, engineering firm, target of US Department of Justice bribery investigation, doing study to justify construction of Tollway for bond and securities markets.
Tomball ISD, $69,138.48, received funds from Montgomery County to build tollroad school district claims benefits it.
Encumbered funds, $1,267,784.18, contracts Doyal-Riley-Meador have approved, unpaid but in progress.
Total direct payments, 1.1.2015 to 9.30.2017 $10,616,331.15. (The flushing sound is your tax dollars.)
These payments don’t include expenditures outside of the date range. They also don’t include payments to engineers, such as John Holzwarth, who may have done work on the Tollway or Tollway-related road projects for which no reimbursement has occurred. The payments also don’t include the massive internal costs (accounting, administration, and overhead) the County has borne for this project.
Under Montgomery County’s contract with the Texas Department of Transportation (Tx-DOT) wherein Montgomery County took primacy of the road project away from Tx-DOT, which would otherwise have built the road on its own (although not necessarily as a tollroad), Tx-DOT would only reimburse Montgomery County for the “reasonable expenses” paid out, if Montgomery County decided not to proceed with the project. Therefore, Montgomery County taxpayers are at risk in the amount of millions of dollars right now.
Doyal has argued that Montgomery County taxpayers will receive these funds back if revenue bonds issue to pay for the Tollway. Unfortunately, Doyal, Riley, and Meador used those funds without any obligation to pay interest in return for the use. The taxpayers are out approximately $1,000,000 for the lost time value of the money they’ve spent, which the taxpayers will never receive back.