Local business owners say Montrose Management District wastes tax money

HOUSTON – A judge has until Tuesday at 5 p.m. to make a ruling in the ongoing dispute between scores of Montrose-area business owners and the West Montrose Management District.

Both sides were back in court Friday afternoon for another hearing. Business owners claim the district has unlawfully taken their money in what amounted to a tax on businesses in the area, and they want it shut down.

Business owners said they weren't reaping any of the benefits of the services the district claims to have been providing, including beautification, security, graffiti cleanup and maintenance on the lights on the bridges over Route 59.

A business owner who testified in court accused the district of failing to properly acknowledge many of the more than 1,000 signatures that were collected on three separate occasions by marking some as invalid.

The judge in the case recently ruled that more than $6.5 million in assessments were illegally collected, the money was paid under duress, the district has to pay back the money and the district can’t collect any more assessments.

The district appealed that ruling.

Business owners said this has been a long fight and they are ready for the issue to be resolved.

“I feel like we’ve been heard and the court has agreed with our arguments," John Whittrock said. "I don’t know if we have won anything yet. The opposing attorney tried to slide under the table. They want to spend all the money knowing full well they are not going to be able to pay the money back if they lose.” 

Andy Taylor, the attorney representing the business owners, said the district doesn't do anything of value and that all it was doing was taking people's money and wasting it.

“They literally think they can steal our money  fair and square and get away with it and we are not going to let them. I’m here to tell the board members they’ve got two choices: comply with the law and dissolve this entity or they need to resign,” Taylor said.

Taylor said he’s not ruling out the possibility of filing a lawsuit against each board member if they fail to follow the law. The attorney representing the management district left court without making a comment.

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