During budget workshop meetings in mid-August, the board of directors set a preliminary tax rate of 23 cents per $100 valuation. The proposed rate remains unchanged from 2016, but it is one cent higher than the effective tax rate of 22 cents per $100 valuation.
At a public hearing Sept. 7 for the proposed tax rate, board Chairman Ed Robb said he would consider making a motion at Wednesday’s meeting to lower the rate to 22 cents. He also said he believes the township should not place money in a reserve for incorporation for which residents have not asked or voted.
“We have a time of diminished economic vitality in our community with people concerned about jobs,” Robb said. “No matter what they rate our property values at down at the central appraisal district, we can all sense they aren’t as strong as they would like to charge us for. I don’t think this is the time to raise people’s taxes in order for some concept of incorporation that the citizens haven’t voted for.”
Township tax rate
Since the township’s inception in 2010 it has lowered the tax rate every year since, due in part to rising taxable property values in the community. Just over the past year, taxable value in The Woodlands has risen by more than $1 billion because of revaluation of existing properties and new construction, said Monique Sharp, assistant general manager for finance and administration.
“As these property tax values have increased over time, the board has looked at the budget and other revenue sources and has determined the ability to be able to consistently lower the tax rate over that same period of time,” Sharp said.
If the township maintains a 23-cent tax rate, it will increase revenue by 4.55 percent from properties on the previous year’s tax roll, Sharp said. Additionally, taxes on the average home worth approximately $439,000 in The Woodlands would increase by $29.83 next year.
At the budget workshop meetings in August, township Directors John McMullan, Laura Fillault, Jeff Long and Gordy Bunch voted in favor of setting aside $2.5 million to establish an incorporation reserve as part of the new FY budget. Township Director Ann Snyder voted against the motion, while Robb and township Director Mike Bass abstained.
The Woodlands has until 2057 to incorporate until it risks becoming annexed by the cities of Houston and Conroe, but no timeline has been set. Residents of The Woodlands will have the final say over whether or not to incorporate if the board of directors chooses to call an election in the future.
Fillault said establishing an incorporation fund sets the community up for success in the future.
"If we continue to try and lower our tax rate every year to the effective rate, we’re going to put ourselves in a real pinch when we can’t continue to provide these services at this high quality that our residents expect."
—Township Director Laura Fillault
“If we keep pushing off putting in money for the next group and the next group, my concern is that we’ll show up in 2057, or even two years before then, and realize we have nothing, still,” she said. “My concern is, if we continue to try and lower our tax rate every year to the effective rate, we’re going to put ourselves in a real pinch when we can’t continue to provide these services at this high quality that our residents expect.”
Bass said he believes the board should not fund an incorporation reserve at this time because of so much uncertainty regarding the timeline of incorporating.
“I don’t think citizens today should be paying the cost of that incorporation reserve,” Bass said. “It ought to be whoever the citizens are at some point in the future—it may not be my lifetime—when this community incorporates as a general law city.”
Township Directors Bunch and Long were not present at the Sept. 7 special meeting. The board of directors is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday to adopt the budget and tax rate.