Those Opposed, Say: Montgomery Moving Towards Becoming #1 Debtor County In Texas

The Woodlands Parkway Expansion map.

THE WOODLANDS, TX (April 6, 2015) – Those who oppose the proposed $350 million road bonds proposal for Montgomery County have submitted the following pr release to local media...

The full release submitted by Steve Toth and Paul Lazarro is as follows: "In a surprise revelation last Thursday night at the public Eagle Forum on the subject here, opponents of a $350 million road bonds proposal revealed that Montgomery County’s outstanding debt would reach $996,595,000, if the bonds passed along with a planned new $200 million jail facility. Texas Comptroller records show existing bond debt for the county at $446,595,000.  If the new road and jail bonds are added to the county’s current debt, it equates to $1,779 per capita in the approximately half-million person county just north of Harris County and Houston. The $1,779, which opponents are calling a “Bonddoogle,” would be the largest per person bond debt of any of the other 253 Texas counties. It would also rank Montgomery County’s total debt third overall out of the 254 counties that make up the state of Texas, behind only Harris and Bexar counties for largest financial obligations in the Lone Star state.

Led by former Texas State Representative from Montgomery County, Steve Toth, opponents displayed a chart showing what he said were unacceptable levels of debt. Toth called upon Montgomery County commissioners and proponent County Judge Craig Doyal, to launch a county-wide mobility plan instead of a “patchwork that leads to gridlock.” The opposition group composed of volunteer leaders and 4,660 residents who signed an online petition objecting to the extension of Woodlands Parkway, the main avenue of the master-planned community. Woodlands Parkway currently terminates at FM2978, but would be extended through new right-of-way territory, out to new housing developments on SH249, a distance of about six miles of new road construction.  A study commissioned by the Houston Galveston Area Council shows that Woodlands Parkway traffic would increase to more than 6,000 vehicles on the road in the morning and evening rush hours.

Although county commissioners say improving traffic in the rapidly-growing county is the purpose of the new $350 million construction bonds encompassing 77 road projects, detractors say up to $101 million is targeted towards simply filling potholes and resurfacing existing roads which should be covered by taxes already paid for county maintenance.

Extensive promotional materials created by a local PAC and extensive campaigning by the proponents promise that they can accomplish the 77 projects without raising taxes.
However, opponents believe that new taxes are inevitable because the county’s plan relies on an eight percent growth rate in property values to pay for the 30-year bonds. Another poll in the online community portal, The Woodlands Online, shows 65 percent opposition to the county’s plan. Opponents are encouraging a “NO” vote against the bonds proposition in an election on May 9, 2015. Early voting begins April 27 and continues through May 5. Once the these bonds are defeated, they hope the county commissioners will launch a full mobility study with experts and input from Houston Galveston Area Council for another bond proposition that could include HGAC and federal funds. The current $350 million road bonds were recommended by a citizens committee of 11 people with no particular expertise in transportation mobility, according to bond opponents.

The online petition and other bond information is on the Facebook page of Gordy Bunch, at-large director on The Woodlands Township board which governs the local community, although with limited powers since it is a special district, not a city. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gordy-Bunch/1384652141784412 ".

Photo: The Woodlands Parkway Expansion map.

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