The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
The Woodlands, September 19 – The Woodlands Township Board of Directors ultimately voted unanimously to adopt an “effective tax rate” of 22.43 cents per $100 valuation tax rate in a huge victory for taxpayers. The meeting included fiery arguments from Township Chairman Gordy Bunch and Director Bruce Rieser who passionately sought an increased tax rate over the current 22.73 cents per $100 valuation tax rate. Bunch and Rieser had sought a 23 cents tax rate.
The Board voted on all three of the tax rates during the meeting. Since the 23 cents rate and the 22.73 cents rate both were tax increases as a result of increase property tax valuations in The Woodlands, they required a vote of 5 Board members. Both of those proposed tax rates failed when three of the seven Board members – Ann Snyder, John McMullan, and Carol Stromatt – voted against both proposals.
Snyder then made a motion to adopt the “effective tax rate,” the rate at which Woodlands Township residents would not suffer a tax increase. Since that rate did not involve an increase in taxes, it only required four (4) votes to pass under state law. Nevertheless, Snyder’s proposal failed when Snyder, McMullan, and Stromatt voted in favor of it, while Bunch, Rieser, Brian Boniface, and John Brown voted against it.
Bunch argued that the Woodlands Township might face substantial perils in future tax years after Fiscal Year 2020, which begins October 1, 2019. Bunch noted that the Township Board needs to begin using “zero based budget” methods in order to ensure that “we can find areas in the budget where we can make reductions.”
Snyder said, “For over 30 years, I’ve represented this community…People have asked for a reduction in taxes. Montgomery County, MCHD, Conroe ISD, and Tomball ISD have all lowered their rates…I’m one of the biggest supporters of public safety, our fire department, and law enforcement.” Snyder made clear she would only vote for the “effective tax rate” and no higher.
Rieser emotionally stated, “You guys are introducing risk which is absolutely avoidable. No one on the Board is denying the risks.” Nevertheless, Rieser announced he would provide the fourth necessary vote to adopt the “effective tax rate.”
Despite announcing his willingness not to vote for a tax increase, Rieser added, “I’ll do it, but I’m doing it under protest. We’re abdicating our financial responsibility and breaching our fiduciary duty.”
At that point, Bunch tried to convince the Board to “compromise” and adopt the current tax rate which would have been a tax increase as well. “Adults should compromise,” he said.
Boniface said, “Me too” in response to Bunch’s comment, “Under the existing tax rate, no one will be put out of their house except Eric Yollick. I’m equally disappointed with this Board.” (Yollick had said at a previous Board meeting that he couldn’t afford any increase in his taxes.)
Snyder then moved to adopt the “effective tax rate.” The Board’s vote was unanimous in favor after Bunch reluctantly raised his hand in concurrence.
Snyder, McMullan, and Stromatt vigorously fought for the taxpayers. Rieser, Bunch, Boniface, and Brown ultimately voted to put taxpayer interests over that of a governmental entity.