The Township Board Indefinitely Defers Incorporation
The Woodlands Township held its first ever public meeting via videoconference at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020. I believe for a ‘first time” event, the meeting went very well. It demonstrated how technology could be used more effectively to promote public participation in our government. Hopefully, this improvement can continue.
A lot of the meeting discussion had to do with the future of the current Incorporation Study, COVID-19, and terminating the Anadarko Tax Abatement Agreement.
-Regarding possible Incorporation, Chairman Bunch reiterated that “Incorporation has never been on a ballot and there has not been any commitment to add it to this year’s ballot either.” He further recommended that all further work on Incorporation be deferred to some future date and considered again when a future Board thinks it is appropriate. The Board agreed and voted to have the Novak Consulting Group e wrap up their work and provide a finished, documented plan that can be updated annually by future boards if the situation warrants.
It now appears there will be no incorporation vote this year and perhaps not even next year. Chairman Bunch recognizes that The Township is facing a financial dilemma resulting from COVID-19 and the oil crisis. He commented on the significant financial deficits The Township already faced prior to COVID-19. He stated the new turn of economic events will only exacerbate the existing deficit position.
Once we get behind the COVID-19 Crisis, the most pressing issue will be to help get our people and businesses back to work. This will not happen overnight; it take some time. The Board will need to focus on putting The Township finances back on an even keel and avoid any future property tax increase! Now is not the time for more taxes.
Residents must still pay attention on how the “wrap up” incorporation activities and the 2021 Budget deliberations progress and stay vigilant. Trust but verify!
-Regarding COVID-19, the Board announced they will be meeting weekly under special emergency guidelines from the State of Texas and all these meetings will be by videoconference. The Board made several appointments regarding the Township’s COVID-19 response:
o Appointed Secretary Dr. Ann K. Snyder to be the non-profit liaison for the Township.
o Appointed Dr. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs to be the public health liaison.
o Appointed Vice Chairman Bruce Rieser, Director Bob Milner and Treasurer John Anthony Brown to the budget task force committee.
- Regarding the existing Anadarko property tax abatement[, the issue was related to the Hackett Tower which OXY is no longer using. Thus, the previously granted abatement on this tower is being terminated. The termination will result in over $2 million in past property taxes being returned to the Township, which it will solely need.
I commend the Board on its leadership, especially its actions at this meeting. The Township needs to focus on what must be done to keep our community safe, preserving our limited, low tax governance structure. The Woodlands is recognized as one of the best communities in the country. We need to keep it that way!