THE WOODLANDS, TX – The Township of Woodlands Board of Directors held a special meeting on Thursday, September 30, 2021, open to the public, and addressed the misinformation being disseminated in the community.
The Board of Directors discussed the incorporation election reports that were awarded to Howard Hughes Corporation in local media reports, at community meetings and on social media. The two commissioned reports, “A Report on The Woodlands Township Incorporation Financial Model”, as well as “A Critique of the Novak Consulting Group’s Law Enforcement Report”, did not use updated figures for 2021 and underestimated the financing of the canton concerning the financial model of incorporation of the canton.
“You can vote for incorporation or vote against,” said President Gordy Bunch, “but we want our residents to at least have the correct facts and information so they can educate themselves.”
Deputy Chief Financial Officer Monique Sharp detailed the factual information regarding incorporation and its associated costs based on the Township’s Three-Year Incorporation Planning Study and the related financial model that constitutes the base of the tax rate included in the next month of November. Election of February 2, 2021 which will determine if the community becomes the town of The Woodlands. Ms Sharp’s detailed description of these two reports can be found online along with the claims posted by another local developer: Law enforcement | Financial incorporation model
Ms. Sharp began her presentation by noting that the township, as a government agency, must provide transparent, timely and accurate financial information prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, the board of government accounting standards and best practices advocated by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).
Equally important, the township’s financial information must be accurate for credit rating agencies, bondholders, bond disclosure counsel, banks and other financial institutions, and auditors. Earlier this year, S&P Global Ratings upgraded its rating on The Woodlands Township’s General Bond (GO) debt to AA +, placing the township in the top 4% of Texas state government agencies. No other special purpose district has achieved a higher score.
Misinformation circulating in the general public, and not produced by the Township of Woodlands, regarding incorporation indicates that a higher tax rate will be demanded from a new municipality. In fact, the board of directors set the maximum initial tax rate that is part of the corporate vote initiative at $ 0.2231 per one hundred dollars ($ 100) of taxable property valuation, which which is the same tax rate currently assessed by the Canton. Whether as a township or as a city, the township’s financial model maintains the same tax rate throughout the five-year plan.
“There is no intention of this board of directors to increase tax rates,” said Chairman Bunch. “We are benefiting from a change in the law for Internet sales tax collection to help fund budget items that create the high level of services and amenities expected by our residents and businesses. “
Here is the language of the ballot. Voters registered in The Woodlands can vote “For” or “Against”:
THE TOWNSHIP OF WOODLANDS – PROPOSAL A
Authorize the incorporation of the District of Woodlands Township as a Type A corporation and the adoption of an initial property tax rate of not more than $ 0.2231 per one hundred dollars ($ 100) of assessment of the taxable property
THE TOWNSHIP OF WOODLANDS – PROPOSAL B
Upon the incorporation of the District of the Township of Woodlands into a City of General Law of Type A to be called the Town of The Woodlands, the transfer of rights, powers, privileges, duties, purposes, functions, responsibilities, the power of issue bonds and the power to impose taxes from the District of the Township of Woodlands to the Town of The Woodlands
The reports were based on outdated information rather than the township’s updated incorporation financial model approved by council this summer. Videos and documents containing new information were and are available to the public online prior to the publication of these non-municipal consultant reports in mid-September:
• Video and documents of the Board of Directors meeting of June 23, 2021
• Videos / documents from the board planning session July 23-24, 2021
• Video and documents of the Board meeting of July 28, 2021
• Video and documents of the board meeting of August 13, 2021
• Video / documents of the workshop on the budget of the board of directors of August 16, 2021
• Video / documents of the council budget workshop of August 17, 2021
• The 2021 budget and five-year plan for the Township of Woodlands
• The 2022 Township of Woodlands Budget and Five-Year Plan
The reports of the consultants commissioned by HHC resulted in the dissemination of inaccurate information in the community of The Woodlands. When comparing the financial model of the incorporation of the canton to the reports, the differences are evident through these facts:
• The HHC consultant’s assertion that law enforcement operations and capital were underfunded by $ 7.7 million was based on the analysis of a law enforcement model different from one approved by the Woodlands Township Board of Directors.
• The HHC consultant’s report did not already include $ 5.9 million in the township’s base budget for public works.
• Consultant HHC lost $ 2.5 million, plus an additional $ 1.25 million budgeted annually by the township for concrete and asphalt road repairs.
• The HHC consultant lost $ 12.2 million on the balance of the incorporation reserve in 2025 developed by the township.
• HHC consultants underestimated funding for already funded and existing law enforcement personnel in the township by $ 11.4 million.
• HHC consultants underestimated funding for additional township law enforcement staff upon incorporation by $ 4.8 million to $ 7.3 million.
HHC consultants underestimated the municipality’s available funding for law enforcement vehicles by $ 6.1 million.
The total amount by which the report commissioned by HHC underestimates the funding available in the Woodlands Township Incorporation Model is $ 28.3 million plus $ 1.25 million on an ongoing annual basis. The other report commissioned by the HHC underestimates the amount available for law enforcement by $ 22.3 million to $ 24.8 million.
President Bunch addressed the misinformation circulating in the public regarding law enforcement. “Enforcement was a crucial point for us as a board of directors to ensure we had a multi-year transition agreement and that public safety was taken into account in the event that a vote for incorporation would be adopted, ”he said. “The township currently fully funds 92 MPs through the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. A five-year transition agreement, approved less than 12 months ago between Montgomery County and the Township of Woodlands, ensures that law enforcement services will remain at current levels throughout the transition period. With each year of the transition, The Town of The Woodlands would add more of its own agents to its own public safety team while the County of Montgomery would gradually and accordingly reduce the number of Sheriff’s Deputies funded by The Woodlands contract. All of The Woodlands town patrol units would also cover residents and businesses in Montgomery and Harris counties. “
Early voting begins Monday, October 18, 2021, and voters must be registered to vote in their county of residence. The registration deadline is Monday, October 4, 2021.
In other areas, the Woodlands Township Board has approved an amendment to the law firm / client engagement agreement with Messer, Fort, McDonald PLLC;