Facing an impending deadline, The Woodlands Township board of directors voted unanimously at a special September 18 meeting to adopt the effective tax rate, ending weeks of gridlock among board members concerning the issue.
The Woodlands has either lowered or kept the same tax rate for several years under Board Chairman Gordy Bunch; however, this budget cycle, the board was split on what tax rate to adopt for the next fiscal year after a series of hearings on the 2019-20 budget.
Citing the increased cost of various services, directors Brian Boniface, John Brown, and Bruce Rieser argued in favor of raising the tax rate from the current rate of 22.73 cents per $100 valuation up to 23 cents.
However, Board Vice Chair John McMullan, along with directors Ann Snyder and Carol Stromatt, stood firm in support of lowering the tax rate to the effective rate of 22.43 cents. The effective tax rate is the rate at which taxes would remain the same as in the previous year when appraisal growth is factored in.
Adopting a higher tax rate requires at least five directors to vote in favor, leaving the board at an impasse and split 4-3 among members. After the board failed to agree on a tax rate at their September 12 meeting, they were forced to schedule another meeting for September 18 in order to continue debating the issue.
Bunch suggested a compromise, asking the board to meet in the middle by adopting the current rate of 22.73 cents. The current rate would still be a tax increase for most residents due to appraisal growth. McMullan, Snyder, and Stromatt dug in and refused to back down from the effective rate.
“People have asked for a reduction in taxes, and our state legislators—with SB 2 and HB3—have forced tax reform and relief,” said Snyder.
In the end, the board eventually agreed to adopt the effective rate, despite reluctance from some directors. The Woodlands joins Montgomery County, Conroe ISD, Montgomery County Hospital District, Montgomery ISD, and Tomball ISD in adopting the effective rate or lower.
“We are fiscally strong,” said Snyder. “And for 2020, we have a balanced budget.”