Updated at 11:25 a.m. May 13 with comments from Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal
Days after Montgomery County voters turned down the $350 million road bond proposal on May 9, those who led opposition to the bond as well as one county commissioner are calling for a new bond vote in November.
Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, Texas Patriots PAC President Julie Turner and Woodlands Township Director Gordy Bunch have each issued statements calling for a new bond vote in November, one that does not include projects they say caused the initial bond to fail.
“Do we learn from the failure and proceed immediately with a bond the community can support, or do we procrastinate and do nothing?” Noack stated in a press release. “ To me, the answer is obvious. Me move forward with a bond this November. To do so we must do the following: remove the Woodlands Parkway extension; prioritize projects based on need; and establish a separate fund to address maintenance projects. If the court is willing to make these wise changes, I believe the voters will enthusiastically support the bond.”
The initial bond proposal included a six-mile extension of Woodlands Parkway from FM 2978 to Hwy. 249 located in Precinct 2 with a cost of $22 million. Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley placed the project in the bond package.
Riley said he would not support a November bond proposal, and he does not regret including the Woodlands Parkway extension on the initial proposal.
Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal said county officials would need to learn more about what residents want in a bond before proposing a new vote.
"I think what we need to do is get back to the people in all parts of the county and find out what they like and didn’t like [about the proposal]," he said. "The bond narrowly passed in other parts of the county, and we need to find out what part they agree with. Whether [the next bond vote is in] November or not, time will tell."
Doyal said he was surprised the bond garnered little support in precincts outside of The Woodlands, an issue he said was indicative of concerns about projects other than The Woodlands Parkway extension.
"That may go back to some of the bumper sticker rhetoric," he said. "Since when is major rehabilitation of infrastructure considered pork? There was just a lot of misinformation that got put out there."
Turner said the Texas Patriots PAC opposed the bond based on what it perceived to be money unnecessarily allocated for maintenance projects while other projects it perceived to be of higher priority were not included.
“There were many urgent projects that went unfunded in this bond, such as fixing the intersection at FM 1774 and FM 1488 and completing Birnham Woods [Drive],” she said. “Much of that money was instead allocated to be spent on maintenance projects with a life span of around 10 years, whereas residents would pay off that bond debt over 30 years, which is a misuse of funds. The commissioners should take the waste out of this bond and give residents a fair bond on the November ballot.”
Doyal said that whether it be in November or another time, the county would need to put forth another bond proposal.
"We would definitely need to look at another bond issue," he said.
More than 25,000 county residents turned out to vote in the May 9 election, 57 percent of which opposed the bond proposal, while 43 percent voted in favor of it. The vote drew a turnout of 10 percent of registered county voters.