Conroe, December 17 – The Conroe City Council continued its aggressive growth-by-annexation on Thursday, December 14, 2017, after four 3 to 2 votes in favor of four annexations. While the City of Conroe claims to be the fastest growing city in the United States, in actuality, the vast majority of its growth occurs by annexation of outlying populations so that city officials may enjoy tax dollar spending increases.
On all five votes, Councilmen Guy Martin, Seth Gibson, and Gil Snider voted in favor of the forced annexation, while Councilmen Duke Coon and Duane Ham voted against. The four annexation parcels were Saddle and Surrey subdivision, Lake Lorraine, Pine Lake, and White Oak Ranch. The City Council also placed Lake Conroe Village, Carriage Hills, Jacobs Reserve, and Lake Lorraine in a 3-year annexation plan.
The parcels approved for annexation this week will become parts of the City of Conroe effective December 31, 2017, at 11:59 p.m.
Janice Henry, a disable paramedic who moved to Pine Lake for financial reasons, told the City Council before the votes, “My taxes will go up from 9 cents per $100 valuation to 40 cents per $100 valuation. I don’t need anything you people are offering. I have my own well, and you don’t offer garbage service. I didn’t vote for any of you people and you don’t have the right to tax me. That’s taxation without representation.”
Pine Lake resident Janice Henry: “I didn’t vote for any of you people and you don’t have the right to tax me.”
Henry and others complained about the speed behind the push for annexation. It appears the city staff decided to make the forced land grab quickly as a result of a recent law which the Governor signed requiring a voter referendum before any annexation may occur in a County with a population of 500,000 or more.
There is a serious question whether Montgomery County already falls in that population category. The law came into effect on December 1, 2017. The County’s population is approximately 562,000 but in the last decennial census the population was below 500,000. Sources inside Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office have confirmed to The Golden Hammer that General Paxton is looking at the issue and intends to issue an opinion on whether a county’s population on the effective date controls whether the new legislation applies.
Ken Thomet, a renowned longtime CPA who has resided in the area almost 50 years accused the City Council of “disregarding the new law and amendments that require a voter referendum.” Thomet noted that he and and family and their neighbors never received any written notice from the city about the proposed annexation. “You must hold a referendum before you annex,” Thomet admonished the council.
The annexations bring dollars into the tax-dollar-spending-voracious city. Earlier this year, the City Council unanimously voted to oppose property tax reform at the state level. The current Fiscal Year 2018 city budget is $180.7 million, a 12 percent increase over the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
While both Ham and Coon voted against the annexation resolutions, neither of them spoke during the City Council meeting against the resolutions nor did they speak during the December 13 City Council workshop either. Ham did ask one question of city official Nancy Mikeska during the workshop.