Only 16% Believe Board of Directors Listens to Residents
Preserve The Woodlands today released the results of a community survey that reveal residents of The Woodlands overwhelmingly object to putting incorporation back on the ballot, and clearly express a desire for The Woodlands Township Board of Directors to turn its focus to addressing community priorities.
Danny Signorelli of Preserve The Woodlands said: “If the overwhelming defeat of incorporation at the ballot box last fall wasn’t a clear enough signal, the results of this survey should be a wake-up call for our Board of Directors. Residents are ready to move past incorporation and for the Board to focus on the legitimate needs and priorities of our community.”
The survey, which was conducted via email to residents over two weeks in February 2022, received more than 500 responses from residents and generated the following results:
· By a 69-31 margin, voters rejected the incorporation of The Woodlands in Nov 2021. Do you believe the Township Board of Directors should place incorporating The Woodlands on the ballot again in Nov 2022?
o 86.1%: No – Incorporation should not be on the ballot again in 2022
o 13.9%: Yes – Incorporation should be on the ballot again in 2022
· Are you satisfied that The Woodlands Board of Directors listens to residents and is responsive to community priorities?
o 44%: No
o 40.4%: Unsure
o 15.6%: Yes
· Which of the following issues do you believe should be the Board’s three highest priorities?
o 65.1%: Lowering property taxes
o 52.8%: Returning $21 million in incorporation reserve funds to taxpayers
o 45.6%: Improving public safety
o 40.5%: Balancing the budget
o 37.5%: Increasing homestead exemption
o 11.7%: Continuing studying incorporation
o 13.5%: Other
· Which community initiatives would you like to see the Board of Directors address first?
o 52.7%: Supporting the redevelopment of aging village centers
o 22.9%: Repairing The Woodlands fire station.
o 9.4%: Creating a school crossing at Creekside Park
o 6.4%: Building a Performing Arts Center
o 8.62%: Other
Signorelli went on to say, “Just as Preserve The Woodlands stood against Incorporation and higher taxes, we are committed to ensuring community priorities, not personal political agendas, are the focus of our local elected officials. We are growing participation in Preserve The Woodlands to provide an even louder, united, and resident-centered voice for local government and leadership. This is what it takes to keep The Woodlands as the best place in the country to work, live, and raise a family.”
Today is a monumental day for The Woodlands and the future of our community as voters have decisively rejected incorporation. The outcome of this election sends a clear and indisputable message that the people of The Woodlands do not want to turn our resident-run community into a city. We call on the Township Board to accept that incorporation is not the will of the voters, and not in the best interest of this community. It’s time to put this ill-conceived, expensive, and risky idea behind us.
A vote against incorporation was about our love of The Woodlands and our way of life. We celebrate this victory alongside every resident and business owner who joined us in working diligently over the last three months to raise awareness and educate our neighbors about the dangers of incorporation and who cast a vote against bigger government and higher taxes.
As a grassroots organization, formed by hundreds of supporters, volunteers, and advisory board members to defend and uphold the principles that have made The Woodlands great, Preserve The Woodlands will continue to fight for limited government, low taxes, and personal freedoms.
James Noack, Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner and longtime resident of The Woodlands, shares the reasons voters should soundly reject incorporation efforts this election.
“This election isn’t about personalities, it’s not about pitting developers against residents, and it’s certainly not about road projects that don’t exist; this is about protecting our community,” Noack says. “This election is about our hometown … Where we raise our children, where they attend school, where we build our businesses, and where we meet together to pray.
“The Township’s rushed push to incorporate is expensive and it’s risky. I love our community and the limited, local government that we have that is resident-run. Let’s not change that.”
Noack said incorporation is a significant risk to the quality of life in The Woodlands, for no clear benefit.
“We have low taxes, an unbelievably safe community, and very limited government,” he says. “Why would we do anything to change that now? What are we trying to fix that isn’t broken?”
You can view the video HERE.
U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady, who has served The Woodlands community for 36 years, publicly announced his opposition to incorporating The Woodlands as a city and is asking residents to join him in voting AGAINST Props A&B.
“As we weigh the best form of governance for the future, I’m convinced incorporation doesn’t make sense for The Woodlands. How does bigger government, higher costs and double-taxing ourselves for roads and law enforcement make us a better community than we already are?
“Abandoning our award-winning Township for a typical incorporated city with higher costs and bigger bureaucracy risks our future. Bigger isn’t better.
“Supporters insist The Woodlands can’t survive without becoming more dependent on federal handouts from Washington – which is a puzzling claim given our ample resources and proven ability to plan for the future. But from experience I worry the opposite is more likely – we won’t likely remain the community we are if we invite more control from Washington.
“It’s a cruel truth that Washington dollars come with Washington rules. Federal funding often includes rigid mandates that dictate how an incorporated city should look and act. These one-size-fits-all mandates can supersede local control, tying the hands of local officials. It’s the biggest complaint I hear from city leaders in my congressional district.
“For example, right now suburban communities across America are battling an alarming push from Congress to force incorporated cities to abandon local zoning laws that encourage single-family homes. In this ‘war on suburbs’, Washington D.C. planners are demanding dense urban living with fewer homes and yards, replacing them with more apartments and multi-family housing.” Read his full letter HERE.
Early Voting Ends THIS Friday
Your vote is your voice. Preserve The Woodlands, vote AGAINST propositions A&B.
Neighbors are asking neighbors to vote against incorporation. Resident Linda Anthony shared her plea to save The Woodlands today in Woodlands Online. Below are excerpts of her letter to neighbors. You can read her full letter CLICK HERE.
“Please Do Not be complacent. Our Hometown is being challenged. Please get out and Vote NO to Incorporation. Preserve the Woodlands and our #1 Rated community.
“The Woodlands is the envy of every city in the country. Even with ‘free money’ and ‘control,’ which are the false ideals touted by incorporation proponents, these cities and other communities cannot come close to matching the unequaled hometown feel, quality of life, and operational efficiency of our town. In The Woodlands, ‘results’ is the only meaningful word on which to focus.
“The residents are happy, and our community is unique. So why change? Why would anybody want to pay higher taxes to chase mediocrity? There is a dark feel to the lack of transparency, false assumptions, one-sided narrative, and brazenly political tactics being used to advance this harmful push to incorporate as a city. We need to be alarmed and we need to understand that our very community is being challenged.
“The Woodlands can never return to the Township governance if it incorporates. The results of November 2 will be permanent.
“Please do not be complacent. We need your help. Please get out and VOTE AGAINST INCORPORATION to keep our hometown as the unique #1 place to live in the nation!”
Alarming report raises legal, ethical questions about officials’ actions
Contracts and expenditures have surfaced revealing that The Woodlands Township hired a political consulting firm to identify, track and target voters ahead of this November’s incorporation vote.
Montgomery County newspaper The Golden Hammer first published the contracts and invoices on its website, which show the Township has spent at least $80,000 in taxpayer funds on a pro-incorporation political campaign.
Texas law expressly prohibits public funds from being spent for political purposes.
“This stunning revelation represents a betrayal of the public’s trust and a disturbing abuse of power, ” said Richard Franks, local resident and Preserve The Woodlands Advisory Board Member. “This is beyond the pale and should be immediately and thoroughly investigated.”
According to the newly revealed documents, the Township hired Cooksey Communications, a Dallas-based political firm, to provide campaign strategy and voter identification to assist in the pro-incorporation campaign. $35,000.00 of the taxpayer-funded effort was earmarked for providing voter list development, designing a campaign theme along with three direct mail pieces, banners, signage, powerpoint presentations, a one-page informational handout for meetings, advertisements, and “monitoring social media platforms day-to-day and provide pre-approved responses.”
According to one board member, this contract did not go before the full board for approval, unlike contracts of similar expense.
Earlier this month, Preserve The Woodlands alerted residents to mounting ethical questions about The Township’s record of spending and lack of transparency.
In response to a Preserve The Woodlands’ public information request the Township responded that it had spent only $375 on 5 posters.
“The Township Board is spending taxpayer funds on a campaign promoting propositions A&B,” said Jason Halstead, local resident and business professional and Preserve The Woodlands Advisory Board Member. “It’s scary that this is happening without any accountability to the taxpayers. It’s clear they were concealing the true nature of their spending of public dollars and now we know why.”
The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board recommends residents vote AGAINST incorporation.
In their October 17 editorial, the board said:
“The current effort feels hasty….The decision isn’t something that should be rushed through in a low-turnout election in a year where distractions, including the pandemic, abound. As one resident told us, ‘We only have one shot at getting this right.’ This just doesn’t seem to be it.
“We recommend Woodlands residents vote against incorporation.”
To read the full editorial, CLICK HERE.
As the balloting begins on the hastily called incorporation referendum, I wanted to share my final thoughts.
Incorporation is not a grassroots grown initiative. It is, in fact, quite the opposite. It is a directive from the Woodlands Township Board, forced upon us in true Washington D.C. style.
Over the past few months, in controlled settings, and with limited ability for anyone to ask questions, we have been repeatedly told it would be FREE. That’s right, they claim we can become a city and it won’t cost us anything additional in taxes. They say the tax rate will stay flat for five years … scratch that, ten years. The Township Board says taxes won’t go up even though their own model depends upon never-ending increases in the taxable value of our property. They even had to double the rate at which our taxable value increases to make their model work! When it comes to the undeterminable, unforeseen costs of incorporation, one board member even said, “We have five years to figure it out!” Put simply, this should be totally figured out before we make an irrevocable vote, not in the half-decade after.
We live in one of the safest communities in the United States. We have excellent law enforcement services provided by a county sheriff and two county constables. The sheriff and constables are both elected by the people – the very definition of local control. Incorporation will disrupt our law enforcement services, cost more than their model suggests, and risk our safety. This isn’t even up for debate. When the elected sheriff and constable have major concerns and when law enforcement experts say this is a bad idea, I trust them more than I trust the Township Board. And why take this risk in the first place?
Further, why the rush to incorporate now? The Township Board has literally thrown Jell-O at the wall, hoping something – anything – will stick. The Board used every card in their deck of desperation to force incorporation upon us. Initially, the reason was to avoid annexation, then major throughfares, next was flooding, followed by “we need control,” “the county is bad,” “the developer is evil,” and ultimately settling on a federal-funding cash grab. When all that failed to move the needle with the public, they went to the graveyard and dug up the infamous Woodlands Parkway Extension. However, the ace they thought they were playing was actually a deuce. It’s a matter of historical record that I worked to kill the Woodlands Parkway extension, winning praise from Chairman Bunch at the time. Then I worked with the developer to replat the property at the terminus of the parkway and FM 2978, PERMANENTLY sending this project to its grave.
Perhaps the most surprising development through this dash to Election Day was local TEA Party Leadership coming out in favor of incorporation. In short, the leaders of a party built on smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and limited power have come out in favor of growing government, raising taxes, fines and fees, and granting a larger government the expanded power of ordinance-making authority. This is particularly ironic when you consider one of the main goals of incorporation is pursuing federal dollars, with all the expected strings attached.
This would have been unimaginable in 2012, when TEA first stood for “Taxed Enough Already.”
With incorporation, we would pay double for the services we already receive. Instead of fighting for the people and representing the limited-government principles those of us in the party still hold true to, local TEA Party leaders are setting their ideals aside as they fight to put “their people” in charge. Rather than fighting for the people, they are putting personal power over principles.
Still, as the election looms large, those supporting incorporation remain a small few. Consistent with the movement’s ideals, many of the people that I see at TEA Party meetings remain opposed to incorporation and will join the majority voting against it. The spirit behind the TEA Party remains strong, even if its local leadership has gone astray.
The movement to defeat incorporation is a large grassroots effort that has grown to include the majority of residents, small business owners, larger corporations, the Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and many more.
We all joined together to fight incorporation because it is RISKY, RUSHED, and EXPENSIVE.
Early voting runs through October 29, with Election Day on November 2! Please join me in voting AGAINST incorporation!
Dear Residents and Business Owners:
There has been much written and discussed regarding the issue of incorporating The Woodlands as a City rather than maintaining our current status as a Township.
The truth is, I have yet to hear a single, compelling reason why residents and businesses would trade the proven, successful model we have as a Township for something that is much bigger in size, scope, cost and authority.
Since when has this community wanted bigger government?
Having been elected six times as your County Judge (1991-2015), I can tell you the incorporation plan and budget created by The Township is unrealistic.
Make no mistake, incorporation will cost residents and businesses a great deal in higher taxes and fees. That becomes crystal clear when you consider that as a city, The Woodlands would need to assume ownership and provide costly services such as a municipal court system, animal control, permits and inspections, street and bridge maintenance, and the big one, law enforcement.
For instance, The Woodlands has expensive concrete streets and bridges that cost substantially more money to maintain. What the incorporation plan has projected for maintaining them is woefully inadequate. In fact, the budget calls for spending more on landscaping than actual road repair.
Today, Montgomery County and Harris County provide The Woodlands with the finest, most reliable law enforcement. Contrary to Township claims, creating a police department from scratch cannot be done without substantial tax increases or severe cuts in law enforcement services.
Why change the very foundations that make our resident-led, limited-government, low-tax system possible?
And why would we jeopardize our public safety?
Incorporating as a city would be risky, rushed and expensive.
Please vote AGAINST bigger government, vote AGAINST tax increases, vote AGAINST incorporation!
Alan B. Sadler
Montgomery County Judge, Ret., 1991-2015