The Montgomery County commissioners criticized the ongoing lawsuit between Conroe Mayor Toby Powell and two tax officials at their meeting May 26.
The commissioners consulted with the county attorney during an executive session about the lawsuit between Powell and Chief Appraiser Tony Belinoski and Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae. Powell said in a statement May 19 he is suing to “get some property tax relief for residents facing economic hardships amid the COVID-19 pandemic.” Montgomery County residents raised concerns about the 2020 valuations in April.
When they returned to the regular session, the commissioners voted to defend that lawsuit.
“I think the word ‘defend’ is kind of ludicrous considering the lawsuit is baseless, and they’re suing the wrong dang people,” Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said. “Tammy McRae doesn’t have the authority vested in her by the people nor by the Constitution to provide that type of relief, and a god dang mayor of a city in this county should know that, and if he doesn’t, he’s a fool.”
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said he and the other commissioners all agreed with Noack’s statement. Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said to provide relief, Gov. Greg Abbott would have to call a special legislative session into order, where property tax relief could be created through legislation, which the public would vote on.
“I could’ve done just like Mayor Powell—I could’ve come out here and proclaimed that I’m gonna give everybody in Montgomery County tax relief, and I’d have been a hero, but knowing all along I couldn’t do that, so we didn’t do that,” Riley said. “He knew better, and he did it anyway.”
Montgomery County Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador called the lawsuit a “political posturing move” and pointed to the Texas comptroller, the Legislature and Abbott as the entities that actually have the power to provide relief.
In a letter sent May 27 to Abbott, Powell asked for recognition of the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic.
“I ask you to take all the steps within your power to relieve our community of the burden of these clearly excessive valuations, including if necessary, summoning the Legislature to a special session,” Powell said.
Belinoksi and McRae have both defended the actions of their respective offices.