This page contains responses to the key issues in Bruce’s campaign. If you would like to address any issue, please Contact Us.
Q. I got a big orange and red door hanger titled “Stop the 70% Property Tax Increase”. My property taxes are already too high in The Woodlands and a 70% increase will force me to sell my house. As a Township Director how can you stop this?
A. The door hanger was produced by the Woodlands Concerned Taxpayers, a non-profit group set up by former Township Director Bruce Tough in early September. There is absolutely no truth in the 70% tax increase claim. The flyer is specifically designed to mislead and frighten the voters. The Township tax rate has already been adopted for next year and the rate is .23/100 valuation, the same as this year. Further, there has never been a qualified tax study done to calculate the potential costs and benefits of incorporation. No one is calling for Incorporation Now. Apparently the candidates pictured on the flyer are ok with this kind of deceptive campaign strategy.
Q.What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing The Woodlands and how would you address it?
A. I believe the biggest challenge we face is taxation and planning for the longer term. The Woodlands is essentially completely built out from a residential standpoint. That means that the Township budget will not be able to take advantage of adding hundreds of new homes each year to the tax base to hold down tax rates. Sales taxes have been flat for the last four years and are projected to remain flat in the 2017 budget. Hotel occupancy taxes are down 15% this year and projected to remain flat in the budget as well. The Township budget is funded primarily through sales taxes (40%) and property taxes (36%). It is obvious that if other sources of revenues are flat or declining, there will be an increasing pressure on property taxes. This is why the decision to remove the $2.5 million reserve for incorporation expenses by four of the Township Board Members was bad policy and bad planning. Kicking the taxation can down the road to future Township Boards is irresponsible and the residents deserve a more professional and visionary approach from their Board members.
Q. Are you in favor of incorporation? Why or why not?
A. I certainly believe that we should at least plan for possible incorporation. The state statute that allows us self-determination has been in place since 2006. The Board commissioned one study in 2011 and has not brought the residents an updated plan since that time. There is no indication that monies have been set aside in our reserves to soften the impact of future incorporation expenditures.
Incorporation would give us more control over the issues that are currently vexing the community, such as clear-cutting, future development, mobility, noise, water rates, and public safety. The Woodlands currently constitutes approximately 20% of the total Montgomery County population, yet we pay over 38% of the county’s property taxes. As the county continues to grow, we will become an even smaller portion of the total population and hence less voting power. The Woodlands residents can significantly impact the election of only one of the four county commissioners, and have just slightly more influence over the County Judge election. In our current state, we are beholden to the County government to address the issues raised by the taxpayers. I would say that our residents have been underwhelmed by the County’s response to their grievances.
Q. What steps should the township board take to alleviate mobility issues in the community?
A. First, let me say that I am opposed to the extension of Woodlands Parkway and worked diligently to help defeat the May 9, 2015 road bond.
I would petition the County Commissioners to undertake a countywide mobility study. The mobility problems in The Woodlands are directly linked to those of other areas in the county predominantly from north and west of our community.
I have reviewed the South County mobility plan, and I don’t find a lot of relief for The Woodlands specifically. The building of 6 lane thoroughfares through residential areas would severely damage the hometown feel for which The Woodlands is renowned. More thought and investment needs to be made in the “loop” roads around The Woodlands, SH 242, FM 1488, FM 2978, and the I-45 feeders rather than forcing more traffic onto residential boulevards like Research Forest, Lake Woodlands Drive and Woodlands Parkway.
Q. How would you like to see the township board handle resident concerns involving issues like clear-cutting and future development?
A. As I pointed out in one my earlier answers, the Township as it is currently constituted has very limited power over these issues. This is precisely why I am pro self-governance. I have much more faith in the residents of The Woodlands than I do in the continuing largess of the developer interests, The Woodlands Operating Company, or the Montgomery County government to protect the quality of life that we have come to expect in our hometown.