Our View: If Woodlands voters want to choose their own future, voting yes on 3 proposals is the way to do it.

The Courier has long been an advocate for The Woodlands Tx being able to secure its own destiny. For such a thriving, well-designed, dynamic community of 85,000 to be subject to annexation by Houston was simply incomprehensible. It has long been clear that The Woodlands deserved to determine its own destiny. That day has finally come. But the only sure way to realize that dream is to endorse the three propositions currently under consideration on the local ballot. We'll address the arguments for and against.

First, the details. Voters are being asked to consider three ballot propositions related to The Woodlands' future. The first two propositions, if approved, would expand the boundaries of the existing Town Center Improvement District to include all of the Woodlands and would change the membership of the district's current board from 11 elected and appointed members to seven elected members. The third proposition, if approved, would enable the special district - to be called The Woodlands Township -- to levy a property tax. The proposition is optional and is not required to pass for the agreement to take effect.

However, the first two propositions must be passed in order to enact the recently approved regional participation agreement with the city of Houston, plus a similar agreement with Conroe. That agreement guarantees that Houston would remove its threat of annexation for 50 years, during which The Woodlands would be able to incorporate itself, if residents choose to do so. In return, the agreement guarantees Houston a small cut of future sales taxes collected by the new Woodlands governing body. For us, the benefits seem apparent. The Woodlands, in return for a regional participation agreement, by this election will create a vehicle for it to determine its own future. The tax benefits to homeowners seem clear - the current property assessment will be exchanged for a revenue base consisting of a community-wide sales tax, levied by the township, plus property taxes.

The sales tax will be paid for largely by shoppers coming from outside of The Woodlands, and the property tax, unlike the assessment, is deductible on federal taxes. In addition, this vote clears the way for a governing body that can call for a vote on incorporation - giving residents the option of finally becoming a city in the future, should they so choose. Some opponents are not satisfied, but we think the opposing arguments consist either of an irrational distrust of the leaders who helped pull this together, or an inexplicable confidence in their ability to somehow negotiate a better deal. Some of the opposing arguments are inconsistent.

First, opponents say that because the deal doesn't guarantee incorporation - it's left to a voter-elected township to decide whether to call for a vote - then incorporation will never happen because powerful interests will oppose it. However, opponents go on to argue that somehow, a better deal can be negotiated in the future. So instead of trusting in their ability to organize and influence a local community election in favor of incorporation, these opponents trust in their ability to get a better deal out of Houston, which holds all the cards under current annexation laws. The argument makes no sense to us. Finally, opponents say the deal consists of taxation without representation, since The Woodlands Township will not be a fully resident-elected board until 2010, thanks to the need to wait until the terms of current members of the TCID expire. But even the current governing bodies of The Woodlands are not fully resident-elected, and won't be for some time -- and yet they determine the community's assessments.

And as for pushing for incorporation, the earliest the community could even contemplate a vote on incorporation is 2014 - that gives residents ample time to organize in support of incorporation and push to seat members on the township who support that goal. Again, it's a whole lot easier to organize a local community election, than somehow negotiate a sweeter deal with Houston. This bird is in the hand. We urge voters to take it - and ensure their chance to determine their own future, freed finally from annexation.

" Posted by Tamborrel Bulox Team on
Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

e.g. yourwebsitename.com
Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.