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Woodlands board members begin annual budget process

Jeff ForwardMay 17, 2019

The Woodlands Township board kicked off its 2020 budget planning process during a special meeting on Thursday, receiving updates on the 2019 budget while also advising township staff of initiatives that each board member would like to see explored and possibly added to the 2020 budget.

The township budget process is done on an annual basis, but with a guiding five-year plan as the framework for each year’s budget discussions. The process begins with township board members asking for specific issues to be examined and included during budget discussions. The discussions continue through June and July before the board meets for a week-long intensive budget planning process when details are finalized before being voted on and the tax rate set.

On Thursday, Monique Sharp, the township’s finance manager, gave a review of the 2019 budget and updates on incoming revenues and expenditures. Sharp pointed out that the projected revenue from sales tax in the township for 2019 continued to lag behind what officials had expected.

“We are trending not toward that target,” Sharp said of sales tax revenue to this point in the year. “I’m not ready at this point in time to project something lower. We’ll continue to track it and report it to you monthly.”

Sharp told the board that sales tax in the past five years has in general been higher than expected, with 2014 seeing the highest bump in revenue at 9.6 percent about expectations. In 2015 (3.9 percent), 2017 (5.6 percent) and 2018 (2.6 percent), the township’s sales tax revenue exceeded projections. One year, 2016, saw a decline in projected sales tax revenue with a negative 2.1 percent change, she added.

As for budget initiatives for 2020, several board members chimed in with things they felt should be included in discussions this year.

Among the initiatives were: funding for expanded mental health, suicide prevention and crisis intervention training for all township firefighters and EMTs; the possible addition of a full-time staff member at the township who would be a suicide prevention and mental health awareness resource officer; expanding the Spring Creek Greenway in conjunction with Harris County; potential funding via a bond for a proposed performing arts center in the township; and more staff members added to the Development Standards Committee for covenant enforcement.

jeff.forward@chron.com

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