Source: Woodlands Township Board presentation, August 13, 2021.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
The Woodlands, October 6 – Woodlands residents will vote on November 2, 2021, Election whether to incorporate as a city or not. Incorporation will shift enormous political power to the current members of the Woodlands Township Board and eventually to the city council, which would ultimately replace them.
Just recently, the campaign for and against incorporation has grown quite a bit nastier. There are accusations on both sides of “misinformation” allegedly coming from the other. In The Woodlands incorporation discussion, there have been statements that becoming a city government would just be trading one type of government, a Township special purpose district, for another, a city, and that there would be no more taxes or government spending involved with it, and no more government than previously.
Rather than relying on the anti-incorporation forces’ allegations about bigger government, it’s helpful to examine what the Woodlands Township itself has said about higher taxes and bigger government. Based upon a slide the Township displayed during its August 13, 2021, Board presentation, it’s clear that substantially higher taxes and bigger government would rapidly come to The Woodlands, in the event the voters decide to incorporate the Township as a city government.
In fact, on August 13, 2021, when the Township Board of Directors put together a slide show argument in favor of incorporation, their own presentation shows the increase in taxation and the increase in government spending by the fourth year after The Woodlands were to create a new city government, with more employees, more regulations, and duplication of many county government services already provided through county taxes, which wouldn’t go away. Since there would be substantially less economy of scale from the formation of a new and separate city government, taking away responsibility for law enforcement services, road and bridge maintenance, animal control, and numerous other services currently coming from the Montgomery County government, it’s no surprise that the Woodlands Township had to admit a city would be substantially costlier.
As the Township showed in its own presentation, the slide for which appears at the top of this article:
On the tax side, there would be:
- $7.2 million in franchise fees Woodlands residents would have to pay;
- $1 million in mixed beverage taxes;
- $900,000 in fines and forfeitures imposed on Woodlands residents from speeding tickets and citations for violations of new city ordinances;
- $150,000 in permitting fees in The Woodlands;
- and $13.1 million in higher property taxes.
The higher property taxes may be the most startling of all. While the Township Board saved substantial funds by overtaxing Woodlands residents during the past six years, so that they could create an artificially lower property tax rate during the first year after incorporation as a city government, in actuality the Township Board is counting on property taxes rising during that first year from increased property tax valuations and counting on substantially property tax increases in later years either through higher tax rates or increased property tax appraisals, or both.
On the new government spending side, there would be:
- $9.5 million for new costs for law enforcement just to maintain the same level of service presently provided through the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Constable of Precinct 3;
- $6.3 million in road maintenance costs, not including capital expenditures for new road equipment;
- $400,000 in new staff positions just at the top level of city administration;
- $1.8 million in debt service on building a new police and court facility;
- $150,000 to run a new permitting department, which would include a new requirement that residents would need to obtain city permits to remodel their homes;
- $200,000 for property tax benefits the Township Board voted to give certain senior citizens to entice them to vote for incorporation; and
- $3.9 million in other expenditures.
If those estimates are too low, Woodlands residents will have to pay higher taxes for the mistakes in estimating those costs. Incorporation would be an irreversible mistake at that point.