For months, members of Montgomery County’s Citizen Budget Committee have been meeting regularly to put together a fiscally conservative budget proposal to present to the commissioners court. However, a free-spending county judge apparently didn’t want to hear what they had to say.

The CBC is composed of ordinary taxpayers from every part of Montgomery County, who have volunteered many hours of their time combing through budgets and meeting with elected officials and county department heads to find ways to cut spending and lower taxes.

The long-term goals of the CBC are to reduce county spending by $100 million by 2022, establish a capital improvement fund so the county does not have to rely on bonds, and increase law enforcement spending by $40 million.

For next year’s budget alone, the CBC is recommending that commissioners court cut non-law enforcement spending by approximately $25 million, increase funding for law enforcement by $5.4 million, and put $2.7 million into a capital improvement fund. The plan would save taxpayers $16.9 million for the Fiscal Year 2019 alone.

With budget hearings coming up, beginning July 24, the CBC planned to present their proposal at the July 10 commissioners court meeting. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark, believing that citizens should be encouraged to participate in government, placed their presentation on the official agenda.

When the court got to the CBC presentation on the agenda, County Judge Craig Doyal asked if there was a motion and a second. Clark was absent due to the intensive chemotherapy and radiation he is undergoing for very serious cancer, so Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack made a motion to hear the presentation.

However, the other members of the court were Doyal, Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, who did not even want the citizens to be allowed to speak, and refused to second Noack’s motion. Doyal declared the motion dead for lack of a second and moved on to the next item on the agenda.

However, Doyal has been inconsistent with requiring items on the agenda to have a motion and second before they can be discussed. During the same July 10 meeting, Doyal allowed seven items to be addressed without a motion or second. When it came to the CBC, he decided to enforce the rule, allowing him and the other commissioners to kill Noack’s motion and refuse to let the CBC present their plan.

CBC spokesman Adrian Kaiser, a precinct chair and member of the Republican Party Steering Committee, was given three minutes to speak at the very end of the meeting during the regular citizens comment time. However, since the CBC report was on the agenda, he had prepared a much longer presentation, and had to condense it to three minutes on the spot.

Montgomery County has one of the most draconian citizen comment restrictions in the entire state. Citizens wanting to address the court must go to Doyal’s office and sign a permission slip 15 minutes before court begins, and no more than 10 citizens are allowed to speak on one issue. Doyal has even had a citizen thrown out of court because he didn’t like what they were going to say.

“Their general attitude seems like they really don’t care what the citizens have to say,” said Kaiser. “When citizens get to comment there seems to be a lack of interest from certain commissioners. When it comes to citizens having motives such as reduced county spending they seem to not care at all.”

Reagan Reed

Reagan Reed is the East Texas Correspondent for Texas Scorecard. A homeschool graduate, he is nearing completion of his Bachelor’s Degree in History from Thomas Edison State College. He is a Patriot Academy Alumni, and is an Empower Texans Conservative Leader Award recipient.