Historically, The Woodlands Township has contracted with Harris and Montgomery counties for deputies to patrol within its borders. The most recent interlocal agreement with Montgomery County has been in place since Jan. 1, 2021, and it renews each year if not terminated, according to the agreement.
The Woodlands Township on Sept. 12 adopted a budget for the 2023 fiscal year including nearly $10 million for law enforcement contracts with Montgomery County, but the county also included the funding in its budget for the next fiscal year, stating it would fund those costs going forward.
According to township discussion at the special meeting Sept. 12, the township's interlocal agreement with the county includes a requirement that the agreement can only be terminated by mutual written agreement or by one party giving 180 days notice of its intent to terminate. That date would be July 1 considering that the contract extends from Jan. 1-Dec. 31 of each year through 2025, and the county budget was adopted Aug. 26.
According to township discussion Sept. 12, board Chair Gordy Bunch met with Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson on Aug. 10 to discuss the matter, and the township agreed to draft an amendment to the existing interlocal agreement.
Monique Sharp, president and CEO of The Woodlands Township, said at the Sept. 12 meeting the township emailed its draft amendment to county officials Aug. 19 but had not received a response as of the special meeting.
However, Montgomery County Attorney B.D. Griffin told Community Impact Newspaper on Sept. 15 that the county had given notice to The Woodlands in August about its plans to fund the officers in its budget. Griffin also confirmed the county had a counter proposal for the amendment in the works, but the plan needed to be approved by the Commissioners Court before it can be presented to The Woodlands.
"Our understanding is that some members of The Woodlands Township have had discussions with some members of our [county] representatives or the sheriff, so there's communication going back and forth," Griffin said. "At this point, we have not been authorized to release our draft of the counter proposal."
According to an email from Lt. Scott Spencer, Henderson said the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office will not change how it provides service to The Woodlands.
“We are pleased the contract remains funded and the citizens of The Woodlands remain protected at the same levels as they were, and we will continue to provide high-quality law enforcement to The Woodlands," Henderson said in a statement. "Contract negotiations are continuing, and we will come to a resolution, but rest assured nothing in The Woodlands will be defunded,”
Township officials have said if the law enforcement funds in its 2023 budget are not used for that purpose, the excess funds will be used at the board's discretion for projects such as capital improvement.