THE WOODLANDS, Texas - Widely viewed as among the most desirable places to live in the Lone Star State, the township known as The Woodlands is considering a major change to its governmental formula with the community's current elected leaders declaring "the time is right" to become a stand-alone city.
"If we don't, Montgomery County could just build roads that could just come right through the Woodlands," said Township Board Candidate Dr. Shelley Sikula Gibbs.
Sikula Gibbs is among those who believe incorporation will deliver to The Woodlands much-needed authority to dictate the density of future buildings and the location of thoroughfares in and around the master-planned community.
"We can gain local control, that means local control of roads and development, speed limits, rights of way, noise, pan-handling, things that are an issue for the quality of life," said Sikula Gibbs.
But it's the sheer cost of becoming a City that has some residents concerned. While incorporation advocates pledge no increase in taxes, many are skeptical The Woodlands can create a police force and multiple other departments from scratch with just its $20 million reserve account.
Currently, most of those services are provided by Montgomery County with a high degree of public satisfaction.
"I think when you compare the tax rate to similar size cities to the tax rate they are selling us, it's unrealistic that's a tax rate we can maintain for the long term," said resident Amanda Van Dusen.
"To say that there is no cost, just seems impossible or it makes it look like they are hiding cost somewhere," said Patrick Stits, a voter in The Woodlands whose opposing incorporation.
"This is the safest, prettiest place we've ever lived. It's not broke, so why fix it?" asked resident Dannette Suding.
Sekula-Gibbs says what the doubters haven't considered are the entirely new revenue streams The Woodlands as a City could access, millions of dollars in federal grants and franchise fees.
"We can stay more competitive and receive federal money like Covid relief. That's $30 million there that we are leaving on the table because we're not a City," said Sekula Gibbs.
Several residents who spoke with FOX 26 are objecting to the "timing" of this November 2nd ballot measure in an "off-year election" when voter turnout is likely to wane.