Liberty County OKs contract with new delinquent property tax firm

Liberty County Commissioners Court meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month in the County Court at Law No. 1 on the second floor of the courthouse in Liberty.

By Vanesa Brashier,

Weeks after approving a contract with Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, to handle Liberty County’s delinquent property tax cases, commissioners, with the exception of Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson, on Tuesday finally authorized the contract after a minor change was suggested by County Attorney Matthew Poston.

The Houston-based law firm specializes in the collection of delinquent taxes and has performed such work for Liberty County in the past and currently is contracted with school districts and cities within the county. The contract will essentially oust Dayton-based attorney Mike Fielder, who has pursued delinquent tax cases for Liberty County for the last several years, most recently helping the County recapture tax revenue on the Cypress Lakes community, now known as The Preserve of Texas.

Hiring an outside firm from the Houston area caused some frustration and outrage from Fielder’s supporters. Steve Goulder, a former Dayton resident who now lives in Baytown, said he was angry at the commissioners’ decision to go with Linebarger Groggan Blair & Sampson. He was one of several people who walked out of the commissioners court meeting on Tuesday when the contract was approved.

“I have worked for Chevron for 32 years. Every six months, Chevron does an evaluation. They set expectations so you can be the best you can be,” Goulder said. “The commissioners did not do that with Mike. No one ever set expectations or told him if he was doing anything wrong.”

Goulder questioned the commissioners’ judgment on hiring a Houston-based firm that will cut several positions with Fielder’s law firm.

“Why are we taking jobs out of Liberty County and sending them to Harris County?” Goulder said. “I am mad.”

Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski, Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur and County Judge Jay Knight said after the meeting that a lot of thought and consideration preceded the decision to hire Linebarger Groggan Blair & Sampson. The firm was one of four to submit a proposal after the County decided to reevaluate its contract with Fielder.

“Each one of the firms met with us in executive session and explained what they can do. We talked to them about different aspects of it and decided that Linebarger was the best step for the county,” Arthur said. “Linebarger is already handling accounts for half the county anyway with schools and cities. I even talked to commissioners in other counties and they all say they do a great job for them.”

Arthur said the decision wasn’t personal and commended Fielder for all the work his employees performed in years past.

“We reevaluate all contracts every five to six years. That’s the way companies keep doing a good job. It was a tough decision and it wasn’t a popular decision, but the bottom line is that after we evaluated everything, the Court thought we needed a change,” Arthur said.

Arthur argues that any jobs lost to the transition will be made up when Linebarger Groggan Blair & Sampson opens its office in Liberty, which is already in the planning stages at this time.

“I was a little disappointed with the reaction we got in court today after we took a vote,” Arthur said. “What people need to understand is that he had already approved this decision. Today was just approval of the contract.”

In other business on Tuesday, commissioners approved soliciting proposals and a scope of work for repairs to the courthouse, which was damaged and allowed water to seep into the building during Hurricane Harvey.

Commissioners also authorized the County’s participation in the newly-created Southeast Texas Flood Control District and its contribution of one-tenth of 1 percent of the sales tax as seed money, which equates to roughly $5,000. The Southeast Texas Flood Zone includes the eight counties of Jasper, Tyler, Newton, Orange, Chambers, Hardin, Jefferson and Liberty.

Having all eight counties on board with the same project will help Liberty County in the long run, Karbowski said.

In other business, commissioners:

  • approved a request by Commissioner Arthur to relinquish the maintenance and care of 264 feet of road surface at the end of CR 2008. Arthur said the request was made by two property owners adjacent to the road and will cause no impact to other property owners;
  • approved appointments to H-GAC committees with David Douglas serving on the Transportation Policy Council and the Technical Advisory Committee; and Melissa Lanier to the Technical Advisory Committee, representing Cleveland;
  • reappointed Leon Blackwelder to the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District Board; and
  • approved a request for a preliminary plat for Santa Fe Subdivision Section 6. According to David Douglas, engineering administrator and grant coordinator for Liberty County, LJA Engineering has reviewed the plat and found it to be in compliance with Liberty County’s minimum standards. Douglas said this section will have 1,756 lots.


  1. Pfft, comedy at its best “Steve Goulder, a former Dayton resident who now lives in Baytown” LOL Hey guy – you’re not here either. The less the good ole boy system gets their hands on in LC is a good thing.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.