Montgomery County considers mobility needs

Montgomery County commissioners unanimously approved a $125,000 update to the county’s 2016 thoroughfare plan Dec. 10. The amended plan is expected to provide the county with an up-to-date list of its thoroughfare deficiencies and possible future projects.

The revision will include a new regional mobility study and result in an amended thoroughfare plan in 2020 for all four precincts, according to court information. The plan is scheduled to be complete in the first six months of 2020, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said in a Dec. 12 email.

“Having traffic counts and data to back up the necessary updates to the current plan will go a long way at informing the court of the priorities for future road bonds and immediate needs that can be addressed with current tax dollars,” Keough said.

He said in a November interview the county would have to identify funding sources for any recommended road projects based on study results, which could include calling for a bond referendum or implementing tolls as long as voters could provide input and approve new collections in advance.

“We’ve got to go out for another road bond—we have to do it,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said. “It’s getting to the point to where we’re going to have to do something within the next couple of years.”

2015 road bond

Of the $64 million allotted to Precinct 2 by the $280 million 2015 Montgomery County road bond, Riley said there is about $12 million left. However, that money is committed to projects with the Texas Department of Transportation—such as the proposed Magnolia Relief Route from the future Hwy. 249 extension to FM 1488 west of Magnolia.

The 2015 bond has funded construction of several projects, including construction of Grand Pines Drive, a new road connecting Nichols Sawmill and Sanders Cemetery roads to be complete this spring, he said.

To get a bond onto the November general election ballot, commissioners would have to call for an election by Aug. 17, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office.

“Having a road bond in 2020 is not completely impossible, but it’s on the verge of impossible [right now],” Riley said. “I may be wrong. We may go into this court in January and decide to put a list together and see what response we get. ... I’m willing to do it in 2020, but it’s certainly not official.”

Other local government stories to follow in 2020

Water litigation continues between city of Magnolia, churches

Litigation on the legality and validity of the city of Magnolia’s institutional water user category—which applies to tax-exempt, nonprofit and government entities—is still ongoing in 2020, Magnolia Mayor Todd Kana said in a Dec. 11 email. The city and three Magnolia churches—Magnolia Bible Church, Believers Fellowship and First Baptist Church of Magnolia—began legal disputes in 2017, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. Kana said litigation is still pending in the court of appeals.

Search for Magnolia city administrator still ongoing

The search for a Magnolia city administrator continues following the death of former City Administrator Paul Mendes in August, Magnolia Mayor Todd Kana said in a Dec. 11 email. Applications for the position closed in late November, and city officials hope to perform interviews in January, he said.

City, county races on the 2020 ballots

The March 3 primary elections feature contested county races as of press time Dec. 20, including Harris County Precinct 3 commissioner and Precinct 4 constable, and Montgomery County Precinct 5 constable, in the Tomball and Magnolia area. The Nov. 3 ballot will include Republican and Democrat nominees from the primaries. City positions—including Magnolia mayor and Tomball and Magnolia city council seats—will be on the May 2 ballot.