Woodlands Township holds first public hearing on $0.23 tax rate

The Woodlands Township held its first public hearing on the 2019 tax rate Aug. 28.

The Woodlands Township held its first public hearing on the 2019 tax rate Aug. 28.

The Woodlands Township held the first of two public hearings Aug. 28 on its 2019-20 property tax rate of $0.23 per $100 valuation, an increase of about $0.0025.

A major contributing factor to the proposed increase is a projected lack of growth in the township’s sales tax revenue, said Monique Sharp, assistance general manager of finance and administration for The Woodlands Township.

Other factors include an increase of $1.6 million in its solid waste contract and an increase of $1.1 million in its streetscape maintenance costs, since the township is assuming responsibility for costs previously borne by The Woodlands Development Corp.

The board met the week of Aug. 12 to determine which budget initiatives would be included in the final proposed budget package. Among the items included are financial and staff support for suicide and gun violence prevention and awareness; funding for a playground at Bear Branch Park; park renovations; a variety of recreational amenities; a fund for a possible performing arts center; and funds for the township’s bond redemption reserve for future debt retirement, Sharp said. It is also including money for the police department to acquire license plate readers and make several vehicle replacements as well as for the fire department to acquire gear and vehicles.

To balance the budget, the township will establish a $2.5 million sales tax reserve to account for the current volatility of sales tax revenue, Sharp said. It also reduced the number of new staff positions to be added overthe next five years, used existing reserve balances to fund some operating and capital expenditures and redirected funding from its Economic Development Reserve to a Capital Replacement Reserve.

Director Ann Snyder said after the presentation she had reconsidered her position on the sales tax rate increase, and asked the board to consider scenarios without any increase.

Chairman Gordy Bunch said the projections do not take into account the uncertain future of Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which is being acquired by Houston-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. this year. That could further affect tax revenue if the company decides not to stay in The Woodlands, he said.

Bunch said the township is built out and the tax base is not going to grow at the same rate moving forward.

“We’re going to see very [few] incremental increases on new properties,” Bunch said. “You’re going to be here in 12 months … looking at [a tax rate] increase,” he said. “Not having new construction properties added to the tax rolls [will] make [the township] different.”

Several residents encouraged the board to instead adopt the effective tax rate, which would generate the same amount of revenue earned in the previous year.

Resident Mark Owen of Cochran’s Crossing said he feels the board will eventually have to grapple with the need to deal with increased expenses given lower revenue.

“I think you went through a very transparent process,” Owen said. “We may not be able to cover increased expenses all the time with tax increases. We have to open up the discussion that maybe we have to give up some amenities.”

After the public hearing, during the township's regular meeting, another speaker urged the board to prioritize law enforcement in its budgeting. She said she was a victim of a violent purse-snatching incident outside the Dillard's at The Woodlands Mall several months ago.

A second public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at 2801 Technology Forest Blvd., The Woodlands. The meeting to adopt the 2019 tax rate and 2020 budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at the same location.


By


MOST RECENT

Vince Santini was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott on July 23. The court was created to address Montgomery County's growing backlog of civil cases. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Montgomery County 457th District Court judge discusses new role, case backlog

When Vince Santini and his staff moved into the new building, they had to work off cardboard boxes and folding tables until furniture was purchased.

sand mining San Jacinto River APO Kingwood
Process begins to form best practices for sand mining companies in San Jacinto River Basin

“What we're advocating for is that standards be developed that provide a broader regional benefit while maintaining consistency and predictability," said Jill Boullin, executive director of the Bayou Land Conservancy.

The Woodlands Township board of directors discussed ongoing pedestrian and bike path needs at its Nov. 18 meeting. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Woodlands continues to seek funding for bike and pedestrian path projects

The Woodlands Township Pedestrian and Bike Master Plan includes many projects, such as a 10-mile Spring Creek Greenway trail, that will require partnerships or outside funding.

Shake Shack opened its new standalone location at The Woodlands Mall in November. (Courtesy Christine Han)
Shake Shack opens in The Woodlands Mall and more Houston-area updates

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

The Skeeters will be the first-ever independent baseball league team to become an MLB team's Triple-A affiliate. (Courtesy Sugar Land Skeeters)
Sugar Land Skeeters selected as Triple-A affiliate for Houston Astros

In joining the Houston Astros organization, the Sugar Land Skeeters will be the first-ever independent baseball league team to become an MLB team's Triple-A affiliate.

Schools now have the power to temporarily suspend on-campus instruction if “a significant number of the instructional staff at the campus is impacted due to a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak." (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Education Agency authorizes schools to close doors for 14 days due to coronavirus-related staffing concerns

Campuses can now instate a hybrid or fully remote instruction model for up to 14 days if adequate instructional staffing is not possible due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases among employees.

Four members of The Woodlands Township board of directors were sworn in Nov. 18. (Courtesy The Woodlands Township)
The Woodlands Township board swears in members, discusses $6.1M in pending CARES Act funding requests

Four members of the board of directors will retain their positions for another term.

Interfaith of The Woodlands launched its pop-up boutique at Market Street in November. (Courtesy Interfaith of The Woodlands)
Interfaith pop-up now open at Market Street, plus 3 recent business updates in The Woodlands area

Businesses coming soon in the area include a new vision care office and a furniture showroom.

Oak Ridge Nort City Council approved issuing certificates of obligation totaling nearly $9 million to fund the realignment of Robinson Road at Hanna Road and other city road work. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Oak Ridge North approves funding for potential Robinson Road intersection improvements

The city's issuance of certificates of obligation is expected to provide nearly $9 million in funding for city road work.

From left: Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null and Montgomery County Public Health Authority Charles Sims discussed the district's COVID-19 response during a Nov. 18 livestream. (Screenshot via Conroe ISD YouTube)
'It's not over yet': Conroe ISD superintendent shares update on COVID-19 response, keeping schools open

Superintendent Curtis Null said the district is dedicated to maintaining in-person learning and credited ongoing efforts to limit on-campus coronavirus spread.