Commissioners Court rescinds haphazard transition agreement with The Woodlands, approved 2 weeks earlier, in order to provide better protection to 84 law enforcement officers

Woodlands Township Chairman didn’t look very happy when he appeared before the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. In actuality, the Commissioners Court action probably was better both for the Woodlands Township as well as for the law enforcement departments of the Montgomery County government.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, August 13 – On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the Montgomery County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to rescind a Transition Agreement with the Woodlands Township, in the event of a vote by Woodlands residents to incorporate as a city. Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack had been the lone vote against approving the agreement on July 28, 2020, just two weeks previously.

The purpose of the Transition Agreement was to have in place an arrangement, so that the Woodlands Township or a city of The Woodlands would have the ability to utilize Montgomery County government services, until the city government could provide them in place of the county, in the event of a resident vote in favor of incorporation of The Woodlands as a city.

Gordy Bunch, Chairman of the Woodlands Township Board of Directors, made clear to the Commissioners Court that the Board of the Township has “no intention to proceed with an incorporation vote in 2020, because we’ve had a 95% loss of hotel revenue, a 25% sales tax reduction, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so it’s not time to push for incorporation.”

Noack opposed the Transition Agreement two weeks earlier and made clear at that time that he had concerns about the draftsmanship of the legal instrument which the other four members of the Commissioners Court had voted to approve.

After the July 28 Commissioners Court meeting, the legal staff of the Woodlands Township discovered that that Transition Agreement, which the Commissioners Court had approved, did not have any provisions for the retention of the eighty-four (84) law enforcement officers who work for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) exclusively within the Woodlands Township under an annually-renewed contract between MCSO and the Township. The current contract will expire on December 31, 2020, which means that without a Transition Agreement, those 84 peace officers could lose their employment.

Bunch, Noack, County Judge Mark Keough, and Sheriff Rand Henderson expressed their concern that the peace officers needed job security in order to remain willing to stay in their jobs.

Yesterday, August 12, Sheriff Henderson spoke with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper. “The Transition Agreement, which the Commissioners Court voted to approve on July 28, left off a line or two about law enforcement officers. There would be no transition until incorporation, so with the expiration of the current contract, those eighty or so peace officers, who are hard working men and women in my office, would face losing their jobs. Many of these people are young officers who are raising young families, so we need to make sure they have jobs through whatever process The Woodlands goes through,” he said.

Sheriff Henderson specifically requested that the Commissioners Court rescind its July 28 action. “We would like to include all law enforcement issues into one document that includes a contract for current services as well as any transition, in the event of incorporation,” Sheriff Henderson told The Golden Hammer.

While Bunch was not particularly happy about the confusion, he appeared willing to negotiate a broader agreement in order to give job security to the law enforcement officers presently serving The Woodlands and to ensure The Woodlands continued to receive service from the Sheriff’s Office throughout the considerations whether or not to incorporate.

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