The Woodlands board delays decision on law enforcement model

The Woodlands Township board of directors will continue to discuss law enforcement costs at its Dec. 11 meeting.

The Woodlands Township board of directors will continue to discuss law enforcement costs at its Dec. 11 meeting.

The Woodlands Township board of directors had planned to decide Oct. 23 which law enforcement model to use in its ongoing incorporation study but deferred the decision to Dec. 11.

Board of directors members said the figures presented by The Novak Consulting Group regarding operating costs for the three law enforcement models raised additional questions they needed time to consider.

After reviewing the cost projections, board Vice Chairman John McMullan said he felt more time was needed before the board makes a decision, and the board should not feel pressured to make decisions in time for the Dec. 11 meeting.

“I was expecting [costs] to be high; I wasn’t expecting them to be as high as they turned out,” McMullan said at the Oct. 23 meeting.

The Novak Consulting Group on Oct. 17 outlined the costs associated with three different models for law enforcement under incorporation. The three options are: an independent police department that does not contract any services to the county; a hybrid model, including both a local department and some county services; and the current model—continuing to contract for all law enforcement services.

The full-service law enforcement model would require a new city’s police department to handle all of the tasks and responsibilities currently covered through contracts with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office.

According to the Novak study, a full-service operating model would cost $15.5 million in new net operating costs in the fourth year after incorporation, a hybrid department would cost $10.8 in new net operating costs and the contract model would represent $2.8 in new net operating costs.

Although the contract model would provide the same services as are currently provided through county contracts, it would also require the city to have a city marshal, as a general law city, officials have said.

McMullan said the board also needs to understand the capital costs outlined in the study, which projected about a $30 million one-time cost for a police building in the full-service model. However, Chairman Gordy Bunch said Oct. 17 that the township has the right to use a 16,000-square-foot building being used by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, and that could defer some of those costs. The Novak study recommends an 86,000-square-foot police headquarters if the full-service model is chosen.

“I don’t think this board has had enough discussion on this issue,” McMullan said of the various costs.

Director Bruce Rieser also suggested deferring the item with questions submitted in advance.

“I believe the complexity of having a city in two different counties and the fact that just because everybody does it that way doesn’t mean that’s the way we should go about this,” he said. "There's no rush to get this done tonight."

Julia Novak, president of The Novak Consulting Group, said the board deferring the decision to Dec. 11 does not present any issues.

"If you're not feeling ready to make the decision, we don't want to push you to do that," Novak said.

Board members have said the decision to put incorporation on the November 2020 ballot would need to be made in May, but an incorporation vote does not need to be made in 2020.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures, located at 23101 Hwy. 242, New Caney, is launching a series of new rides throughout the rest of this year, with most of the new attractions opening to the public by Nov. 26. (Courtesy Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures)
Big Rivers Waterpark & Adventures in New Caney set to add 11 new attractions

The new portion of the theme park dubbed Big Rivers Fairgrounds will feature 11 amusement park rides, including a spinning rollercoaster, a rocking pirate ship, a 360-degree spinning pendulum and several attractions for children.

The county’s team would aid adult victims of sexual assault and streamline response operations, the DA’s office said. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office presents plan for sexual assault response team

The county’s team would aid adult victims of sexual assault and streamline response operations, the DA’s office said.

A conceptual rendering shows what a high-speed rail station in Dallas could look like. A final design on the station has not yet been released. (Courtesy Texas Central)
Reversing course, Texas Supreme Court grants rehearing for high-speed rail eminent domain case

In the Oct. 15 order granting a rehearing, the Supreme Court set a date of Jan. 11 to hear oral arguments.

The amended version of the planned development unit will now go to the Austin Planning Commission for review. (Rendering courtesy Austin Environmental Commission)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Austin commission OKs development plan near Lady Bird Lake; shopping center coming to Porter and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 15.

More than 500 people attended the Sept. 23 forum in The Woodlands on incorporation. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Incorporation forums in September opened topic to residents' questions in The Woodlands

Forums took place in August and September on the topic of incorporation in The Woodlands, and early voting begins Oct. 18.

Through most of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of apartments were offering some kind of concession as a way to entice renters. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Rising apartment rent continues to be trend in Houston region

​​​​​​​According to data from, Houston has seen an average 12.8% rental rate growth in the past year.

A Dia de los Muertos art display can be seen at Market Street this month. (Courtesy Market Street)
Haunted trails, live music, public safety: 7 things to do in The Woodlands area, Oct. 15-17

Seasonal events continue in The Woodlands area the weekend of Oct. 15-17, including a haunted trail at Bear Branch Park.

The Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program has helped local families avoid eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Harris County evictions trending up as federal moratorium ends

More than 1,200 eviction cases were filed in Harris County the week of Sept. 20—the highest weekly number since before the pandemic.

The Smoking Joint is now open under the umbrella of Click Click Chew virtual food hall in Cypress. (Courtesy Kirsten Gilliam)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: More restaurant, retail space could be coming to north Frisco development; Locatelli’s owners launch virtual food hall in Cypress, and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 14.

The council discussed a possible use for the ARPA funding it recently received during an Oct. 13 meeting. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Shenandoah City Council discusses possible use of American Rescue Plan Act funds

A water meter project was presented to the council during the Oct. 13 meeting.

Todd Stephens has been superintendent of Magnolia ISD since July 2009. (Photo courtesy Magnolia ISD)
Q&A: Magnolia ISD Superintendent Todd Stephens provides update on academic year 2021-22

With additional staff and more than 500 new students in Magnolia ISD, Superintendent Todd Stephens said he feels optimistic about the academic year.