Thursday, August 30, 2007

The road to Governance

Updated 10-14-07 to update and clarify. The Woodlands residents have decided to pursue incorporation via a five step approach. 1) Hire an outside consulting company to lead the residents and political figures to a careful and representative conclusion using quality project management techniques. This has been successfully accomplished. The Woodlands residents participated in an effort to fully understand what they had in common and the direction they wanted to go. It included mapping out a strategy based on what was most important to residents. This effort included asking the mayor of Houston to speak to the residents on his views. Our state senator attended some community meetings and sought a political alliance when we needed it the most, just before the 2007 legislative session. 2) Politically acquire the right to be self governing. Led by our state senator and district house legislator, (a) an alliance was achieved with the city of Houston and Conroe, and (b) two legislative bills were passed enabling The Woodlands to be self governing. 3) Vote on a plan to use TCID as a first step governing body. It already exists and can be utilized for a transition to incorporation. This will be on the ballot this November. To vote, one must be a registered voter. An education campaign has begun on how the resident will be able to deduct their association fees in their tax return of 2008. This can be accomplished by changing the association fee to a TCID tax structure, levied by the county. It will also contain a poison pill, so to speak, to remove the sales tax as a target for financial gain through invocation of Houston's jurisdictional right to annex The Woodlands. For this to be effective, the sales tax needs to be the full 2%. 4) Exist as a special tax district (TCID) until incorporation is possible. This will occur about 2011 when we should start planning for a municipality government for 2014 or later. To be a city, there is much planning ahead, including development of facilities and developing a reasonable governing plan. Shall we have a Mayor or a Business Manager? How would we distribute council representatives and how many? There will be many questions to answer. We need some time to work all this out. 5) Finally comes incorporation with city ordinances and self determination for the quality of life we expect coupled with appropriate governance to ensure our value system. This requires sufficient representation for us to make decisions for the good of the whole and the good of each village or neighborhood.