Woodlands residents express concerns about future of $20.7 million Township “incorporation reserve”

Woodlands Township Chairman of the Board Gordy Bunch has been tight-lipped about the $20.7 million “incorporation reserve” after residents soundly rejected incorporation in November, 2021.”

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

The Woodlands, January 26 – Woodlands residents have expressed serious concerns about the future of the $20.7 million Township “incorporation reserve” after an odd $5.2 million transfer occurred into the fund after voters had soundly rejected incorporation of The Woodlands as a city government in the November, 2021, General Election by an almost 70% to 30% vote. Between November 30 and December 31, 2021, the Board somehow authorized moving $5.2 million from the Grogans Mill Road site plan reserve to the incorporation reserve.

The balance in the incorporation reserve now stands at $20.8 million for the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, which began on October 1, 2021.

The Fiscal Year 2022 Budget statement provides as follows:

“The Board established a $2.5 million reserve in 2017 for expenses related to the potential incorporation of the Township. In 2018, the Board authorized the dissolution of the previously established Road and Bridge Reserve and transferred the $1.9 million balance in that reserve to the Incorporation Reserve. Additionally, the Board authorized a transfer of $2.0 million from the Undesignated Capital Contingency Reserve. During 2018, $797,060 of the reserve balance was used to fund the incorporation study, resulting in a reserve balance of $5,701,239 at 12/31/2018. In 2019, the board authorized an additional transfer of $10.5 million to the Incorporation Reserve and incorporation study expenses of $300,000. In 2020, $380,750 was budgeted for consultant fees, public meetings and other costs related to potential incorporation, which lowered the ending balance in the Incorporation Reserve to $15,405,467. In 2022, the balance from the Grogan’s Mill Property Site Reserve will be transferred to the Incorporation Reserve to bring the ending balance to $20,782,356.”

On December 2, 2021, Township Chairman Gordy Bunch, the primary proponent of Woodlands incorporation, responded in an email to two Township residents, “The Inc reserve came from the Grogan’s Site Plan & Road & Bridges.”

The Township purchased the Grogans Mill site in 2015 specifically for the purpose of developing a municipal complex for an incorporated city government. Now, obviously, the voters have rejected that.

Therefore, it would seem that the full $20.78 million “incorporation reserve” is unnecessary and should probably provide the funds for the Township to implement a 20% homestead exemption. Bunch and Township Acting General Manager Monique Sharp opposed a homestead exemption prior to the incorporation referendum, because they said it was a “fiscal impossibility.” Now, with incorporation by the wayside, the Board should act swiftly to give Woodlands residents the property tax exemption, which they want and deserve.

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