Friday, July 31, 2009

Woodlands Township Budget Scope and Overview

The Proposed 2010 Budget includes the funding of The Woodlands Township and the Community Associations of The Woodlands’ services and staff, along with funding for The Woodlands Fire Department, The Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau, and includes an enhanced community-policing plan, as well as continued infrastructure development.

Its scope includes long and short term needs of the community. The idea is basically to maintain the current level of quality services and to enhance selected services. A process has been established through a strategic plan to ensure the efforts are directed towards long term strategic objectives. These include replacing aging facilities, maintaining a very large number of assets, and creating a flexible financial environment in which to succeed.

The budget includes the combined services of the Community Associations and The Woodlands Township. The Woodlands Fire Department will continue as a separate not-for-profit corporation and will be funded entirely by the Township Board of Directors. The Community Associations’ assessments will be replaced with a Township property tax levy. All responsibilities and obligations of the Community Associations will be assumed by The Township on January 1, 2010.

“These are historic times for The Woodlands,” said The Woodlands Township Chairman of the Board Nelda Blair. “This budget will reflect the needs of the combined organizations of The Woodlands Township and the Community Associations of The Woodlands, including combining the staffs, centralizing responsibilities and improving efficiencies. Quality of services will remain the same or be enhanced as the two organizations combine as of January 1, 2010.”

Basic services provided in the Proposed 2010 Budget include:

  • Covenants Administration assumed from the Community Associations’ responsibilities
  • Parks and Pathways - 110 parks and 180 miles of pathways
  • Aquatics - 13 swimming pools, 50% funded by revenues and 50% by fees
  • Waterway maintenance - pathway, fountains and park
  • Fire and EMS - 6 fire stations with related trucks and equipment and 110 firefighters
  • Enhanced Law enforcement - 54 deputies with proposed reorganization and delivery of services
  • Neighborhood Services - from existing services by the associations
  • Security services - in Town Center
  • Convention and Visitor Bureau - special events
  • Economic Development - partnerships
  • Refuse collection and recycling
  • Streetlights
  • Roadway and entry maintenance
  • Capital projects - replacement of aging or non-serviceable equipment
  • Capital projects - new parks, pathways, fire stations
  • Debt service - existing debt refinance and financing new projects
The Woodlands Township has four primary funding sources1:
  1. Property tax of $37.9 million - will replace Community Associations’ assessments
  2. Sales and Use Tax of $30.1 million – general operating fund plus Houston, Conroe agreements
  3. Hotel Occupancy Tax of $3.5 million - sole use is for the convention center
  4. Other Revenues of $5.6 million
  5. Bonds or loans for large capital projects
The property tax levy will replace the Community Associations’ assessments, which fund these services:
  • Community policing
  • Covenant enforcement
  • Parks and pathways maintenance
  • Aquatics
  • Neighborhood services
  • Garbage collection/recycling
  • Community maintenance
  • Administrative services
  • Capital asset replacements
  • Capital asset additions
  • Operating reserves
  • Debt service
  • Community relations
The Woodlands Fire Department costs were previously funded by the Community Associations’ assessments and will now be funded through Township Economic Development Zone (EDZ) fund which is sourced by sales taxes.

The sales tax is expected to generate approximately $30 million annually. Approximately $15 million of the annual sales tax collections will be used to fund the cost of The Woodlands Fire Department previously funded by Community Associations’ assessments. The remaining funding from the sales tax collections (approximately $15 million) will be used to fund (1) Regional Participation Agreement funding to Houston and Conroe, (2) debt service and annual expenses including:

  • Economic Development Zone debt service
  • Town Center security
  • Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Community event promotion
  • Economic development promotion
Service enhancements included:
  • Expansion of existing community policing program (over a two-year period)
  • Initiation of a group sales operation - use existing personnel
  • Initiation of a centralized purchasing operation - use existing personnel
  • Program for capital reserve funding
  • Program for economic development reserve funding
  • Funding for assumption of water taxi service
Provision for three reserve accounts are proposed in the event of potential downturns in sales tax and hotel occupancy tax collections.
  • Operating reserve – 20% of operating expenditures
  • Capital Asset replacement reserve
  • Economic Development reserve
1 Township 2010 Budget webpage

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