Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ken Smith

Mr. Scott,

First of all, thank you for your interest in this monumental issue. The following are my personal viewpoints and I do not speak for the Board of Directors of Town Center Improvement District.

I became interested in the affairs that shape our community back in the mid 1980’s and was appointed to serve on the planning and zoning commission for the City of Shenandoah in 1986. I subsequently decided to run for the city council and was elected in 1988. I have been reelected to that position for 9 terms and currently serve as Mayor Pro-tem. A little over two years ago, the city council nominated me as the representative to serve on the board of directors for Town Center Improvement District. My nomination was accepted by T.C.I.D. and I began serving as a representative of Shenandoah which is in the “impact area” of the Town Center.

Through the negotiations between Senator Williams and Mayor White came an agreement that would allow the Woodlands, upon passage of the enabling legislation, to seek self governance. Part of that legislation mandated that, if the voters approved, the T.C.I.D board would become an all elected board. Therefore, my term which ends in May of 2008 will be my final opportunity to serve in this capacity.

If I wished to remain on the board, it would be in my interest to see this referendum defeated. I have no personal interest to further myself or the City of Shenandoah in this issue being passed by the voters.

When the legislation was first proposed, the City of Shenandoah was concerned that the boundaries of the expansion could encroach into Shenandoah’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. We were assured by the Senator Williams and Representative Eissler that this would not happen and they even included language in the bill that specifically prohibited such an action.

From my nearly 20 years of experience as an elected official and my knowledge of our city government, I felt it valuable to closely follow this legislation for the benefit of the citizens of my neighbors in The Woodlands. But again, I will not benefit either way.

I must admit that the citizens of The Woodlands have a monumental task ahead. Shenandoah began as a small community and determined to incorporate after being a subdivision for just a few years. The Woodlands is a planned community that has evolved into villages and has grown to one of the largest developments in the country and will be undertaking the task of deciding on self governance from a totally different perspective.

I voted to move forward and let the residents make the decision based on my knowledge of the facts and that it may be the last opportunity for my neighbors to avoid what happened to the residents of Kingwood which was annexed by Houston.

It is my understanding that T.C.I.D. was the catalyst that would enable self governance. A current political subdivision that represented the residents of Town Center made good sense in moving forward to meet the objectives of The Woodlands as a whole.

The expanded boundaries along with the implementation of a sales tax would enable The Township to finance the payment required per the agreement to the City of Houston under The Regional Partnership as well as the advantage of using any excess collection to reduce the current homeowner assessments. The unique advantage of this is that an assessment is not tax deductible whereas a sales tax is. Also note that it is expected that a majority of the sales tax would come from non residents.

Also on the ballot is a request for the authority to introduce an ad valorem tax. This tax would also be used to offset dollar for dollar the assessments. Again, this type of tax is deductible.

There was a public forum held on September 25th which outlined many of these items. I was in attendance and impressed that most all the questions raised by concerned residents were answered and by the conclusion it appeared that most in attendance were pleased with the results. I understand that there will be additional forums to answer the concerns of the residents.

I believe that this is an excellent opportunity for the citizens of The Woodlands to move forward towards determining their future. I am not aware of any agendas and do not feel that anyone on the board has used their vote for any self serving purpose. The advantage of an all elected board will further enhance the transparency of the issues in that the citizens can change the board at the ballot box.

Whether the referendum passes or not will not affect me or the City of Shenandoah. But honestly, I would much rather have The Woodlands, Texas as my neighbor than The City of Houston.

If I can answer any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.

Below is the bio that is on record with the Town Center Improvement District.

Ken Smith
Board Member
Town Center Improvement District

Director (Appointed by City of Shenandoah)
Mr. Ken Smith
Ken Smith & Associates
Home: 527 Thornwood Drive, Shenandoah 77381
Term expires: May 2008

· Mr. Ken Smith has been a resident of Shenandoah for over 26 years
· He owns Ken Smith & Associates, an insurance brokerage firm in Houston
· He was recognized by “Who’s Who International” for his work in that industry
· Mr. Smith was elected to the Shenandoah City Council in 1988 after serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission
· He currently serves as Mayor Pro-Tem of the City Council
· He represents the City of Shenandoah on the Town Center Improvement District Board of Directors

No comments: