Montgomery County Commissioners Court adds constable staff during budget workshop

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Correction: This article incorrectly stated each precinct was awarded three officers. The article has been updated with the correct information.

As Montgomery County precincts’ constable offices grow, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court is still figuring out how to grow the county in a sustainable way.

As the commissioners continue to go over their fiscal year 2019-20 budget, several departments pleaded their case July 31 for additional resources. The commissioners approved three officers for Precinct 1, 3, 4 and 5, two funded from the general fund and one funded by the respective commissioner’s budget, in addition to other requests. Precinct 2 was given one officer.

While discussing the extra staff members, Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said the court must create a plan for more sustainable growth in the county.

“We talk about it [growth]every year. We give them [the constables]more and more people, and they’re not gonna have room for them,” Noack said. “We can’t build five new constable offices.”

Nate Jensen, the director of court administration for Montgomery County, also had $10,000 added to the court’s operations budget to add furniture in several courtrooms. Jensen said if the county has no plans to build a new courthouse, it must maintain the buildings they have.

Noack said the commissioners seemed to be remodeling the rooms every year, but County Judge Mark Keough said the courts’ needs are very real.

“There are things that need to be changed, and for the small amount of money it is, that’s peanuts in the scheme of things compared to what we’re spending on things,” Keough said.

Montgomery County Budget Officer Amanda Carter said the preliminary FY 2019-20 budget totals $365,063,261, not including the additions from July 31. The effective tax rate, which is the amount needed to raise the same tax revenue as last year, is $0.4475 per $100 valuation. The current county property tax rate is $0.4667 per $100 valuation.

The commissioners will meet Aug. 1 at 1 p.m. to vote on the tax rate.

Workshop highlights

  • Precinct 1 has been combating mental health issues with its Crisis Intervention Team and other deputies; mental health calls are up 11%; CIT responses to suicides in progress or mental health episodes are up 25%; and follow-ups with people involved in mental health incidents are up 94% since last year, according to Constable Phillip Cash.
  • County Treasurer Melanie Bush did not receive any additional staff, but several commissioners brought up potentially dissolving the office of the county treasurer.
  • Animal services was given $30,000 as seed money for a wellness center that will provide basic services such as flea and heartworm treatments and vaccinations. Aaron Johnson, Montgomery County Animal Shelter director, said he hopes the center will be self-sustaining after the first few months.

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Andy Li
Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now covers the Conroe Independent School District, Montgomery City Council and transportation.
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