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!