The Woodlands Township board voted unanimously at a special videoconference meeting Dec. 18 to approve interlocal agreements with Montgomery County for the provision of law enforcement services as well as transition services should residents of The Woodlands vote to incorporate in the next four years. The board did not discuss the matter in depth at the meeting, which only lasted a few minutes and for which the law enforcement agreement was the main agenda item.
According to The Woodlands Township meeting materials, the 2021 budget includes $9.62 million for law enforcement, which consists of $8.12 million for personnel, $1.1 million for overtime, $291,200 for fuel, $44,200 for air cards—which provide Internet access—and $70,000 for other equipment.
The matter of extending the interlocal agreements and planning for a possible incorporation transition came up at an Aug. 11 Commissioners Court meeting, when commissioners rescinded a law enforcement amendment previously voted on at a July 28 meeting. Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson was directed to renegotiate the agreement between the two entities, according to the meeting agenda.
In August, Henderson said there was concern from his department that the deputies would not have job security unless the contract details were hammered out because the contract ending Dec. 31 included language that assumed an incorporation vote would have taken place in 2020.
Ultimately, the transition agreement that would take place if The Woodlands eventually becomes an incorporated area was separated from the current law enforcement agreement.
"It has been retooled. ... I feel that is probably the best supplemental [interlocal agreement] that we have ever put together, and I am very proud to bring that to you today," Henderson said at the Dec. 15 meeting. Montgomery County Commissioners Court approved the items at that meeting.
County officials said they will need to continue to prepare in the event The Woodlands incorporates.
“This gives us the time to put the plan together to move these people underneath the county’s pay,” Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack said.
Henderson said the agreement will ensure job security for the more than 90 deputies currently contracted in The Woodlands.
“I think it’s clear that all 92 of those deputies have absolutely job security, whether that comes from The Woodlands or that comes from the county,” Henderson said.