Federal dollars provided to Montgomery County through the CARES Act may be shared directly with county taxpayers this year under a proposed plan announced April 27 by Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack.
Noack's office issued a statement about the plan days after he said Montgomery County received a $104.98 million allotment from the $2.2 trillion federal package for coronavirus-related economic relief. The payment was part of the approximately $11.2 billion provided through the legislation to the state of Texas and its individual counties for spending related to the viral pandemic.
In the statement, Noack said he believes a portion of the county’s nearly $105 million CARES Act funding would be best used to provide relief money directly to taxpayers. He said the payments would benefit the local economy and assist those who have lost their jobs or businesses due to stay-at-home and shutdown mandates imposed by the county and state governments since mid-March.
“The orders issued in Montgomery County and subsequently by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott were to flatten the curve, not our economy,” Noack said in the statement. “These federal funds are not a gift to Montgomery County taxpayers. These are their dollars, and the best use of these funds is to put them back in their hands.”
Under Noack’s plan, the county would provide stimulus checks to all Montgomery County individuals and entities with 2019 property tax filings. The amount of each check would be calculated based on a percentage of those county property tax payments and would not include property taxes paid to other local governments, school districts or utility districts.
Based on information from the Montgomery Central Appraisal District, the county's 128,731 residential properties with active homestead exemptions in 2019 had an average market value of $282,967, and the county's 2018 tax rate was $0.4667 per $100 valuation. According to Precinct 3's statement, the county collected approximately $248 million in total property taxes last year, meaning each percent of taxes applied to the stimulus check program would provide around $2.48 million to taxpayers.
“Montgomery County has followed the president’s recommendations, CDC guidelines and the governor’s orders in directing our residents on best practices to prevent the spread of this dangerous and potentially deadly virus,” Noack said in the statement. “Now, as the CARES Act provision states, these funds should be used to cover the costs not accounted for. And the budgets hit the hardest by this pandemic are those of our hardworking citizens. These costs were incurred during the time frame covered under the CARES Act and should be covered under the distribution and allotment of these federal relieve and stimulus dollars.”
According to the statement, Precinct 3 will work with county, state and federal officials to further formulate and implement the stimulus plan this year.
"Commissioner Noack looks forward to discussing this conceptual proposal with the rest of the commissioners and county judge at a future commissioners court meeting in order to hear their ideas and hash out details for using the federal CARES Act funds," said Andy DuBois, Precinct 3 projects and logistics manager, in an email. "In addition, as stated in the release, Precinct 3 and the county will look for guidance at the state and federal level in order to ensure that guidelines regarding use of the CARES Act funds are followed."
Following the distribution of stimulus checks, the remainder of the county’s federal funding could be used to support the region’s medical response to the coronavirus pandemic. A Precinct 3 release said millions of dollars would remain for the county to purchase COVID-19 test kits, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies after the stimulus program is rolled out.
“While the majority of Montgomery County residents were hardest-hit in their pocketbooks over this time, everyone must recognize that we are not immune, and that we are all susceptible to this worldwide pandemic, which is why the county should allot the remaining funds to battle this health care crisis by equipping our front-line first responders and medical professionals and also [to] provide quick and necessary testing for those affected,” Noack said in the statement.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack seeks to provide stimulus checks to taxpayers through CARES Act funding
Noack announced his plan to distribute property tax-based stimulus payments April 27. (Courtesy James Noack)