Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jeff Long 2008 Interview for Director Township Woodlands Texas

Candidate Written Interview

1. What specifically do you personally expect to get out of being on the Township Board?

Satisfaction of continued service to our community and residents, like the past five years I have served on the WCA board.

2. What are the primary resident values that you will use to prioritize your decision making for the villages?

I will do what is good for all of the areas, taking into account all the residents. I need to balance the needs of the villages but pay attention to specific issues as well. The village associations will be the ears and eyes of The Woodlands. I want to enable and enhance this.

3. What are the primary commercial values you will use to prioritize your decision making for the business community?

I worked for years in my work career toward job balance. This means bringing local jobs to the community, to reduce commute, benefit the environment, and enhancing family life and values. With more quality jobs, we get more time with our family. So I want to entice high quality companies to come to our community and relocate here.

4. Do you believe that resident issues or commercial interests are going to be your biggest challenge?

I believe residential issues will predominate. With the resident population increasing from 85000 to 125000 in a short time, there will be many to serve! Additionally we will have a very large number of components in our community needing attention as a result of the dramatic growth. Our current economic development plan is working and will continue to be successful with fewer challenges. I do not see those processes needing to materially change.

5. What is your position on the future government of The Woodlands? For example, do you support incorporation?

My perspective comes from my background where I worked with municipalities most of my career. I have great admiration and appreciation of what cities can do to serve the community. I see the likelihood that "citihood" will have its positive benefits where we can tap resources not available to us today, such as municipality grants. It would be beneficial to us if we had more regional influence in water and transportation. There is a down side to this however in potential cost. We would have to take on street maintenance for example. This is an example of what we will need to consider as we go forward.

6. What is your view of the relationship between the associations and the Township during and after transition?

During the transition, the relationship is spelled out in the agreement. I spent long hours on that agreement to ensure it would dictate the future for us over the next 18 months. Afterwards, the District will take over the control of the future of the community. The associations will essentially be non-existent except for possibly covenant meetings and processes. I do not see any new initiatives in this area. Funding will probably be granted the same as it has been in the past. "We will continue to do what we have been doing but will create some procedure to take care of the void."

7. What is your vision of maintenance services for the community in the transition and afterwards?

One of my concerns has been the level of service for the residents during and after the transition. I see the service being as good or better than it has been over the past 30 years. Surveys indicate that resident are content with the services they have today. One reason that I want to be on the board is to see that these services are maintained at the level they have been and that the Township pays attention to them.

8. What is your vision of the associations’ role in the future of The Woodlands?

See answer #6 above.

9. What changes would you like to see from our fire department over the next two years?

Continue to maintain services at the current high level. We have professional fire services and the community has provided the fire department with resources to do the job well. The increase in fire stations, plus the related equipment and fire fighters will enable us to reach an ISO level of 2. As a result, businesses and residents should have reduced insurance rates.

10. What are your ideas and vision for the tax structure for residents and businesses here?

Our tax rate will be lower than the past rates of the villages. Sales tax for the entire Woodlands will generate some $13.5mm to $14mm per year. This will offset much of the property tax and association dues we would otherwise have to pay. By the time 2010 rolls around, I see a tax rate of $0.29-$0.30. It will be fairly simple. What is not collected in sales taxes will be collected in property taxes to maintain operations. I do not see any changes to fee structures, which supplement the tax income.

11. What is your position on the parks, trees and amenities provided throughout The Woodlands? Also please add any relative comments on the development of the Village of Creekside Park?

I am a user of the trails and parks. My wife also makes heavy use of them. I am a supporter of at least having the same amenities we have today, with even more depending on the cost and constrained tax rates. In the WCA, we prioritized maintenance projects for the parks department to ensure that the township will give priority to these areas. The development of Creekside Park will result in a village similar to the villages we have today. There is at least another 1.5 years of development in our future. To have the same sales tax structure for Creekside Park, we might have to go back to the legislature. That could impact how we do things in the future, but I see no philosophical change to development going forward as planned.

12. If you have any additional statements you believe residents or storeowners should hear reflecting your personal commitment to their welfare, please try to enumerate in 50 words or less.

1. I am committed to meeting residents' needs without impacting commercial interests and vice-a-versa.
2. By combining the functions of TCID with the functions of the associations, we should see positive results for everyone.
3. If we are careful with the budget, get good quality from our efforts, pay attention to the needs of all villages, and avoid extravagance, we will be caring for the community as a whole.

Candidate verbal interview>

1.What do you think about the future means to measure the public’s assessment of the Township board? The current resident confidence appears to be rather high, considering the last election. You mentioned the survey as a means to measure contentment. Is that a good measuring tool for the new Township board?

The public will take a wait and see position. When the public starts bringing issues to the board, how they respond to questions, the issues and answers will set the perception and tone of this new governing entity. Are they able to deal with the issues? This type of assessment will be a measure of the board's success. How is the spending our taxes? The stakeholders will judge the board on spending habits and the service they receive.

2. With the huge increase in population as you have noted, how will you manage to handle it all with a board of seven?

A board of 7, 11, or even 20 will not make the difference. It is how the board works together as a service to the community. The county for example has five members, six counting the judge. They have regions to assist their processing. It is not the number of directors but the ability of them to serve the district as they have been commissioned.

3. Have you already identified some specific municipal grants that you believe would help our community if we were a city?

One or two might be mentioned, as types of grants.
1. Community development block fund.
2. A transportation grant fund that we could compete for.
A whole host of opportunities exist that we would have to investigate.

Campaign Email: Send email to Jeff's campaign mailbox

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