Montgomery County Commissioners Court unanimously votes to terminate all incorporation transition agreements with Woodlands Township

Montgomery County Commissioners Court unanimously votes to terminate all incorporation transition agreements with Woodlands Township

Image: Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Conroe, November 10 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court voted unanimously, 5 to 0, to terminate its three Transition Agreements with the Woodlands Township, which such agreements would have assisted The Woodlands in the transition from a Township to a city government. The action occurred exactly one week after Woodlands residents resoundingly rejected incorporation as a city government by more than a two to one margin.

The purpose of the Transition Agreements was to assist the Township Board in making the transition from a Township to a city by continuing to provide County government services to The Woodlands during the first five years after formation as a city government, particularly law enforcement services, road and bridge services, and other general services (such as animal control) before the city government was able to provide those services on its own.

The Transition Agreements had enabled the pro-incorporation Township Board members to present lower city government costs during the first few years, if the voters had approved incorporation.

The agenda item to terminate the three agreements came from Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack, who represents most of The Woodlands in his Commissioner Precinct. Noack told The Golden Hammer, “A record number of voters turned out in an off-cycle election to overwhelmingly repudiate the Township’s hastily called incorporation referendum, with nearly 7 out of 10 voters rejecting the plan. In the wake of such a decisive result, the agreements were revealed to be both unwanted and unneeded, so – in keeping with the will of the voters – the court unanimously voted to terminate them.”

Close to the beginning of the meeting, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough appropriately moved the controversial agenda item from the secretive “consent” agenda to the open discussion portion of the meeting. Keough did note, however, ” I have some legal questions and would like to move this to our executive session before we take action on it.”

The Commissioners Court, therefore, met with Montgomery County Attorney B.D. Griffin in a closed conference room prior to coming into the open and voting to terminate all three agreements.

Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch, who led the pro-incorporation forces in the November 2 Woodlands incorporation referendum, didn’t appear at the meeting. This newspaper confirmed, through three sources close to Bunch who have requested anonymity, that Bunch was very upset about the intended Commissioners Court action to cancel the three Transition Agreements, as Bunch had hoped to put the incorporation referendum back on the ballot in 2022.

Without the Transition Agreements, a city government in The Woodlands would need to provide a police department and road and bridge services almost immediately, so that Woodlands residents would have to bear the full cost of such services from the inception of a city government. The cost of such services over and above the Township Board’s theoretical financial projections would be in the range of $25 to $30 million over first three years after incorporation. County taxpayers, however, would save those expenditures, thanks to the Commissioners Court’s action yesterday.

After having arrived very late to provide any meaningful citizen comment, Woodlands Township Director Shelley Sekula-Gibbs made a citizen comment at the end of the meeting in which she attempted to complain about the action the Commissioners Court had already taken to terminate the Transition Agreements.

 

 

 

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