Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Secret Order of the Woodlands Road Utility District #1

This incredible utility district has been operating in secrecy for years. The story is unfolding as local government watch dogs seek openness in local government. Unbelievable as it seems, this year was the first recorded election of a utility that taxes $0.47 per $100 assessment on every business in The Woodlands. We need to open those books. The stakeholders are not only the taxpayers, but every resident of The Woodlands! Business owners who pay the taxes are generally not aware of its use. I don't know about you, but I want to see their books in detail, their plans for our roads, and the personal financial stakes that every individual on the prior board had.  Let's open this up. Who knows, it may all be legitimate and above board, but it certainly is not transparent. Annual financial reports required by law are available on request.

Three incumbents were ousted in the election by 24 voters. Who can vote? Only residents of the utility district. The district is made up of businesses, so how many residents are there anyway? Not many, but if we consider the lack of interest in voting in our community, there is an entire precinct with similar turnout numbers here in The Woodlands.

Now the kicker. The results are being contested in court by the ousted incumbents. The question is "Does the Residence Inn constitute legal residence?". Local residents are trying to take control of this independent government entity that has 75 million dollars of debt. Although I doubt the election will stand, I do respect the intent of the effort. The organization of this utility is simply irresponsible. It essentially reports to no one. This is a classic example of Texas politics at its worse, right here in our own backyard. It serves the community and has enabled road construction, but is that good or bad? Congestion - yes. Quality of life for the eastern part of The Woodlands, I don't think so. This utility district is an enabler for the development company and county.

Maintenance of our roads is a current issue. Montgomery County is strapped with a population that wants no higher taxes; therefore county road maintenance projects were deferred by deferring a bond election. There is a trend to shift those bonds to a special utility district instead, similar to The Woodlands Road Utility District #1.

How many times do citizens need to say - stop the fleecing of America! Turn the governments over to the hands of its constituents. In this case, those who are affected by the decisions of the Woodlands Utility District. Our lawmakers need to be more responsible than pass laws such as this. Imagine a tax district without voters! Ethics? Where are they? Maybe the work of a few can shake out whatever shadowy financial leakage we have from a government without apparent accountability.  That may be instinctive perception, but where there is instinct, there is often fact.    

Related articles:
Conroe Courier 
Fellow Residents Information site
Texas Watchdog website 
County Citizen website

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