The possibility of incorporation and impact of an ad valorem tax are among the questions voters asked about during a recent public forum at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott. Almost 200 residents turned out to the informative and sometimes heated public forum organized by the Town Center Improvement District to dispel confusion and misinformation about an election in November that, if passed, will make the TCID the governing entity in The Woodlands Tx.

State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, kicked off the forum by enumerating his reasons to give governance authority to the district, which currently oversees economic development in the master-planned community's commercial hub.

He said The Woodlands Tx would have to garner consent from surrounding cities to incorporate, something Houston and Conroe would be reluctant to grant. The TCID already has the authority to annex the rest of The Woodlands without asking permission. ""We were playing the hand that was dealt to us,"" Williams said.

Still, some residents said they view the proposed structure just as much - if not more - of a gamble. Anita Shaw said she is ""concerned about the rush to get this done so quickly."" ""Everyone is talking like if this doesn't happen, the big bad wolf - Houston - is going to eat us whole,"" she said. Nelda Luce Blair, chairwoman of the TCID board, said Conroe, which initiated the annexation of Municipal Utility District 39 in December 2005, has already shown its interest in annexing a portion of the community.

""This will give us a firm guarantee that will not happen,"" Blair said.
Genie Ingram wanted to know what will happen if the confirmation election does not pass. ""Will we get another shot at it?"" she said. Blair grimly answered the community will ""go back to square one.""

Previously in the meeting Rep. Rob Eissler R-The Woodlands, who authored House Bill 4109 detailing the TCID's new structure, told attendees the bill will expire if residents vote down the propositions in November. Ed Forsley asked why the legislation does not address when a vote will occur allowing the community to incorporate and dissolving the TCID, which will be renamed The Woodlands Township if voters approve the expansion. Mike Page, general counsel for the TCID, said the directive of the Governance Steering Committee was to ""create an opportunity for self governance"" but didn't specify incorporation was that solution.

The GSC is a group of 11 stakeholders in the community that met monthly to try and find a way out from under the annexation threat. When the agreement was announced between Houston and The Woodlands, the GSC dissolved.

""The legislation provides an opportunity to vote on incorporation. ... The people will decide through the election of representatives if we are going to put that on the ballot,"" Page said. Bruce Cunningham, president of the Grogan's Mill Village Association, said he is uncomfortable voting for an ad valorem tax for the TCID until an agreement has been finalized to transfer services from under the scope of the Community Association of The Woodlands to the district. Blair said the district ""will have the MOU (a memorandum of understanding explaining how and when services will be transferred to the TCID) done in writing before the vote.""

She said although The Woodlands Community Association, The Woodlands Association and The Woodlands Commercial Owners Association cancelled its joint meeting recently to discuss the memorandum, ""there are some meetings this week"" to resolve those questions. Responding to a question Cheryl Crandall Tangen, a WCA member, asked about possible roadblocks to incorporation in 2014 that might need additional legislation, Page said, ""You've raised some issues that are worth looking at.""

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