Guest Editorial: Sage Bill O’Sullivan writes about incorporation of The Woodlands

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), left, seeks advice from the sage, Bill O’Sullivan, right.

I was recently invited to speak to the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations hearing about Brandon Creighton’s Senate Bills 1014 and 1015 which would enable The Woodlands to both Incorporate and become a City. To put this in perspective: “There are 1,216 incorporated cities in the state of Texas. As of 2013, 246 cities have a population of 10,000 or more, 68 boast populations of at least 50,000 and 35 have at least 100,000 residents”. (Google Geography) The Woodlands at about 125,000 would be about the 21st Largest City in the State. The law, as structured, does not permit a town/municipality larger than 10,000 to incorporate so we have to get a special bill through the Legislature to permit us to commit resources to explore the process for The Woodlands. I felt it important to try to give a picture of The Woodlands at 30,000 which was three times larger than the maximum 10,000. Here is my testimony:

“In 1990, the population of The Woodlands was 30,000. There was no Mall, few restaurants inside The Woodlands and the amount of people both living and working in The Woodlands was small.

Conroe was a City with a much larger population. I bring this up because we are trying to get a law amended that restricts Incorporation to municipalities of 10,000 or less. The figure of 10,000 is totally impractical for the manner that cities happen out of developments.

Today The Woodlands is approaching 125,000 Residents in both Montgomery and Harris Counties. That makes The Woodlands about 70% larger than Conroe. Yet, we are controlled by Conroe and the Montgomery County political structure. In Montgomery County, we make up about 17% of the County’s population yet provide 38% of the County’s revenue.

Recently, we had a much needed Road Bond Election. There was a project in that Bond that The Woodlands wanted excluded due to it increasing traffic on an already saturated road. Our pleas were ignored. We rolled up our sleeves and that 17% of the population provided 47% of the vote in the election where the Bond was defeated 57% to 43%. Six months later, the Bond was revoted. This time the offending project was removed and it passed 62% to 38%.

This situation showed us that if you don’t control your geography, you won’t control your destiny. We set about to change that calculus. We enacted a plan to try to do that. First we elected to the Township Board of Directors six of the Seven Directors. These six were were in favor of exploring Incorporation. Next we are here asking our State Government to permit us to pursue this investigation. In that way, the residents of The Woodlands can have the option to Incorporate as a City through an informed vote having been presented all the benefits and drawbacks of the choices.

I opened this presentation talking about 1990 and 20,000 Residents. That was 20,000 above the level where a decision on Incorporation could be made. We were too immature in experience and capability to make that decision. We are not any longer. We would like you to enable us to explore that now”.

We should know soon if we get out of Committee.
Semper Fi

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