Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 09/16/2021  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon Incorporation Planning Study matters (as requested by Chairman Bunch); 
FISCAL IMPACT:
Not applicable.
BACKGROUND:
This agenda item will be placed on the agenda for a Township Board of Directors meeting at least once a month at the request of Chairman Bunch. 

In early 2018, the Township engaged consulting firms to assist with the incorporation planning process. The incorporation planning study was designed to include public input opportunities, a financial and benchmarking/best practices analysis, a tax rate study, an assessment of law enforcement needs, a pavement management study, and a review of infrastructure management alternatives (such as the structure of MUDs and water services). The Matrix Consulting Group was the lead consultant in 2018 and The Novak Consulting Group performed a parallel financial analysis. In December 2018, the Board contracted with The Novak Consulting Group to take the lead role for the remainder of the study. 

Throughout 2018, the Township Board held regularly scheduled planning sessions to review and discuss the Incorporation Planning Study and substudy reports with contracted consulting firms, and in 2019 and early 2020, planning sessions were scheduled with representatives of The Novak Consulting Group, as needed.  Following the presentation from the consultants at the February 20, 2020 meeting, the Board approved a provisional maximum initial tax rate for use in the next phase of community engagement for the Incorporation Planning Study at the regular Board meeting on Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

At the Board meeting on March 25, 2020, which was held by videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, the Township Board voted to defer the community engagement process and redirect staff and consultants to work towards completing a viable long term financial model and plan that could be updated by future boards and in a condition that could be carried forward for annual updates as part of the future board budget processes.

In April 2020, the Incorporation Planning Task Force met with representatives of The Novak Consulting Group regarding the remaining pieces of the Incorporation Planning Study, to include a final report and a potential presentation on the final outcome of the study in the Fall; however, this was never scheduled due to the ongoing pandemic.

On June 18, 2020, the Township Board recieved a presentation from The Novak Consulting Group and accepted the Incorporation Study Consolidated Report.

In August 2020, the Board held a special meeting to provide an opportunity to call a November 2020 election; however, this matter was tabled.

At the Township Board of Directors Meeting on March 31, 2021, Chairman Gordy Bunch requested a future agenda item for an update on Incorporation to include scheduling future Incorporation planning sessions in order to revisit the previous incorporation planning calendar and to complete the remaining Incorporation study items. Chairman Bunch also requested that the Incorporation Task Force begin meeting again in preparation for discussion with the full Board. 

In April, Chairman Bunch announced that the Township would be restarting the Incorporation Planning process, which is expected to include a planning session during the summer months and a future public forum to discuss the outcome of the study.

On June 17, the Board held its first planning session to restart the Incorporation Planning Study. The meeting included a brief history of local governance in The Woodlands and the study process to date, an overview of the financial assumptions used in the 2018-2020 study, and a review of water and sewer utility options available under incorporation.

On Friday, August 13, 2021, after reviewing the updated financial model and considering a preliminary maximum initial tax rate, The Woodlands Township Board of Directors called an Incorporation Election to be held on November 2, 2021. 

The updated financial model is based on the Township’s proposed base budget and the addition of incorporation initiatives that were developed as part of the Incorporation Planning Study.

Per the Regional Participation Agreements, and state statute, the Township Board of Directors is vested with the sole authority to call an Incorporation election, which can only be held at a general/uniform election date (November or May). The Woodlands Township Board of Directors can call the election, but only the voters of The Woodlands can decide whether to incorporate The Woodlands Township as the City of The Woodlands.

Two propositions will appear on the November 2, 2021 ballot. Proposition A creates the City of The Woodlands and sets its maximum initial tax rate. Proposition B depends on Proposition A passing. Proposition B transfers the Township’s rights, responsibilities and authorities of the Township to the new City of The Woodlands, dissolving the Township. Residents of The Woodlands Township can vote “for” or “against” the propositions shown below:
 
THE WOODLANDS TOWNSHIP – PROPOSITION A
Authorizing the Type-A city incorporation of The Woodlands Township District and the adoption of an initial property tax rate of not more than $0.2231 per one hundred dollars ($100) valuation of taxable property
 
THE WOODLANDS TOWNSHIP – PROPOSITION B
Upon incorporation of The Woodlands Township District into a Type-A General Law City to be called the City of The Woodlands, the transfer of the rights, powers, privileges, duties, purposes, functions, responsibilities, the authority to issue bonds, and the authority to impose taxes from The Woodlands Township District to the City of The Woodlands

Additional information on the study, including the Incorporation Study Consolidated Report, can be found on the study website at www.TheWoodlandsIncorporationStudy.com.
RECOMMENDATION:
Board to determine action.
Attachments
Additional Materials - Finance Department Presentation


    

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