Back in December, a deal was brokered between the Woodlands and the city of Houston to take annexation of the Woodlands by Houston off the table forever. On Friday, SB1012 by Sen. Tommy Williams, one of the deal brokers, passed out of committee and appears to be headed to passage in the full Senate.
The enabling legislation allows cities and special districts to enter into agreements in which the parties would share the cost of mutually beneficial regional projects, including roads and parks.
Under the deal, Houston would release The Woodlands from its extraterritorial jurisdiction -- the legal designation that allows annexation -- and the community of more than 85,000 residents would decide after 2014 what type of governing structure to adopt.
In return, The Woodlands would give an initial $16 million to pay for certain regional projects, with the money coming from existing sources to be determined.
The Woodlands also would dedicate a portion of its sales tax revenues to pay $45 million over 30 years to fund such projects.
Although no opposition was expressed at the committee meeting Wednesday, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said he still has concerns.
"I have not seen an analysis of what it means for Houstonians down the road," Coleman said, suggesting that giving away annexation rights has hurt other major cities.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who said before the legislative session began that he was reluctant to tie the hands of future leaders, said Wednesday that meetings with stakeholders have allayed those concerns.
"I have a better understanding of the checks and balances that need to be met," Whitmire said. "It's probably inevitable."