Woodlands Township Chairman Bunch identifies “triggers” to incorporate during presentation to Montgomery County Commissioners Court

Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch addressed the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, regarding incorporation of The Woodlands.

Conroe, February 13 – Woodlands Township Board Chairman Gordy Bunch spoke to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, February 12, 2019, regarding incorporation of The Woodlands. During Bunch’s 45-minute presentation, he explained the “triggers” which are causing the Township Board to explore incorporation of The Woodlands as a city at this time.

The Golden Hammer will present Bunch’s full presentation in additional coverage.

Early in his presentation, Bunch mentioned, “I’m a financial planner by trade and I believe in planning.” The Chairman explained his surprise that the Township Board has taken so little action previously to do planning for incorporation to understand its benefits and its costs.

Bunch added, “I came onto the Township Board in 2012. There are no existing plans to transition into a city. There were two prior studies but they fell short of being a transition plan. As a good governance…that’s irresponsible.”

Towards the end of the presentation, Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack asked, “Can you just explain the need to revisit incorporation now?”

Bunch answered,

“The outcome of the original vote and the original participation is that The Woodlands, Texas, will be a city, whether it’s its own city or part of the City of Houston. So it’s irresponsible not to have a transition plan.

“The decision to hold an election on incorporation has not actually occurred, despite how many times you may hear it…It’s still not being rush; we’re halfway through it.

The residents of the Woodlands deserve to know what a transition plan may look like.

Noack then asked, “When you started to formalize your plan to transition, you talked about triggers to occur that would move the Township to incorporation. Can you explain what triggered your study of incorporation?”

Bunch responded,

“We had a long term debate over roads. The county has the right to the roadway. The thoroughfare plan gets approved by the city of Houston and the city of Conroe. When we debate those, we did not get a conclusion that was favorable to our residents.

“I also identified we’ve had three major flooding events in The Woodlands in 18 months – Tax Day, Memorial Day, and Hurricane Harvey. As a Township we are not in a position to actually advocate for direct funds to respond to the need for mitigation at our level. That ends up with the County, the MUD Districts, Harris County Flood Control. We are…a constituency of over 115,000 people. That is not a position of strength when you have a community that expects better representation. They already think we are a city and they’re confused.”

Noack laughingly said, “I might take offense at ‘better local representation.’ I think they get that from me.”

Bunch replied,

“You’re not the MUD District, Commissioner Noack, so I wouldn’t take it personally. And Commissioner Riley and Commissioner Metts.

“As a Township, we don’t have access to the liquor tax, which is about a million dollars of revenue that our community collects and gives to the State. The County gets its million, but the Township doesn’t. 

“There’s other things we can’t do for our constituents…I can’t freeze taxes for our 65 years and older as a Township [but cities may do so.] We can do something more for the seniors and disabled in our community as a municipality than we can as a Township. 

“Ordinances, firework bans are unenforceable. We live in the woods. The Bastrop fires came strikingly close…We can’t keep people from open fires or fireworks…People post virally that these firework bans are unenforceable.

“There is a strengthening for the community to be self-governed.

“There are also inherent dangers. Yes, there’s an increase in cost and also what occurs in other cities that you don’t want to occur here.

“The people can be in charge of themselves…or we inherit what the cities of Conroe and Houston decide for us.”

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