Monday, December 17, 2007

Conroe School District 2008 Bond Proposal - timing is everything

Heads up! A new bond is planned for CISD to buy land for expansions in the northeastern side of Conroe. This is due to the large explosion of planned communities over the next five years north of Conroe. The Woodlands will have expansion projects built into the bond, according to the Chronicle article published today (see links below). If growth does not pay for the bonds, then of course our tax rates would have to be increased. So is housing going to continue to boom? We need to research this bond to check the impact on us, considering the state of our economy and foreclosed loans.

The good news are the reduction of rates by $.035 for 2007-2008, or about -22% from 2006-2007. Tax assessment base is predicted to increase at a more modest 6.0% annually over the next two years, slowing down these reductions. Added debt in a bond will likely partially offset that effect. Projected student base increase is anticipated to be the same over the next two years as the last ten years (5% per year), requiring additional campuses. There are no more funds available for this. The 2004 bond is about to be depleted by current projects. See the financial presentation on the CISD website, listed below.

Possible direct benefits for us: added classrooms at Deretchin and Tough elementary schools, major classroom additions and core space additions at College Park High School. Note the capacity issues at both elementary schools (see TWHS Feeder System link below)

We will be asked to vote for this in the May 2008 election when we choose our five at-large elected Township board members.

Pertinent Links:

2008 Conroe ISD Bond Proposal per The Houston Chronicle
CISD Financial Presentation for 2008-2009
2008 Bond presentation at meeting 12-13-07
TWHS Feeder System capacity stats

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Woodlands Township Board - 11th member replacement

Today, as I contemplated the situation for replacing Les Tarrance, I had to ask myself the question. What is the first thing for the board to consider? It is of course the actual need to replace Mr. Tarrance. What work needs to be done that cannot be done now? What representation is missing in the voting process? What experience is lacking to make quality decisions? What personality is needed to get the board from point A to point B?

So far, the need is not apparent in my eyes. Looking at the current board, I would say they have an array of representatives from every needed angle to govern the community, villages and town center alike. The five members to elect in May can fill any additional gaps of knowledge, skills and representation of the villages.

Suppose we have a board of 10. Would that be so bad? Perhaps we say, the vote could end in a tie. Sure it could! That can occur anytime there is a quorum of less than the total number of members. This can easily be solved by the chairman not voting when there are an even number of attending board members and using the chairman's vote as a swing vote when needed.

We face a critical time because replacing the position after the May election may be perceived as a move to offset some imbalance in power. The politics of the situation requires careful thought. Residents would be more apt to accept a non-political visionary decision in this process rather than an appointment based on the "need" to have an 11 member board that may be largely political in nature.

If it means amending the rules of order, so be it. So what am I missing here? Why the sudden push for an action to replace Mr Tarrance? Wouldn't it be comforting to know that there is enough self-confidence, especially by those seeking to be elected in May, just to let the position go vacant?

Related links:
Replacement of Tarrance on The Township Board
Chronicle article 11/12/07

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Woodlands Association Elections

There will be a transition period to consider when electing officials for The Woodlands Association. The elections will be held in February. Nomination packets are now available on the association website for those wishing to be directly involved in this exciting time of government change. See Resources below. We need to keep expertise in the associations to enable this transition to have as little impact on our community as possible. Please give special consideration to those who have enabled our community to be self governed and have the indepth knowledge of our community assets and processes.

As the transition to the new consolidated township brings us closer to a governing body, there will continue to be a need to fill gaps in the association positions. There is a need to bring new blood into the thinking process as well to fill vacated positions when some key association members move on to positions in the township. In this transition, more of us need to participate! Diversity within our population with a team consciousness, is required to gather the details for this transition. We need residents to step forward and run for positions. The association elections are coming. This is the time to sign up and put yourself on the ballot. You only need to be a resident to run for an association position. Each village has representatives also and that is an important position so that we get grass roots input into the process and decisions.

Knowledge is important for the transition so we will need to have some key positions filled by experienced people. However, it is important to have as many residents involved as possible, preferably those who are willing to continue to work over time for this community. We have much detail to work out and those contributing their ideas and experience over the next three years will be crucial to our future.

Unlike government positions, any resident can vote and have a position in any of the associations, including WCA and TWA in this election. Application forms are available to complete in late December, and the election will occur in February.

Additional resources:
1. The Conroe Courier - "WCA, TWA directors mull upcoming township election"
2. Woodlands Association 2008 Election forms and information