The Woodlands Township Board of Directors is scheduled to host a “virtual” meeting at 6 p.m. tonight.

The meeting will be conducted using various technological tools including video conferencing or members present via telephone. The main items scheduled to be discussed are the COVID-19 pandemic response; incopration studies; and possibly approving a two-month extension of township General Manager Don Norrell’s work agreement.

The meeting will be live-streamed on the township’s website at: http://www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/778/Meeting-Videos.

The agenda for the online meeting follows the same format for in-person meetings, however how public comment will be handled via residents who want to speak using a special telephone line in light of the meeting being live-broadcast from remote locations. Some residents, including Walter Cooke — who ran for the board in the recent November 2019 election — have sent comments they would make during the normal public comment period to board members via email.

Cooke said he felt it was important to express opinions and statements about township issues during the pandemic. Cooke, a long-time township resident who challenged two other candidates in the November election to replace retired Director John McMullan, said incorporation efforts should be halted due to the pandemic and its effects on the local economy.

“The economic and financial disruption caused by measures to fight COVID-19 and more importantly, the dramatic drop in oil prices….will wreak havoc on the township’s tax revenue. Sales tax receipts had fallen even prior to these events due mainly to the shift to online shopping. The requirement to engage in ‘social distancing’ will accelerate the move to online shopping even after the current medical crises has passed which will further erode sales tax revenue,” Cooke said in his email to township directors. “The drop in oil prices, as well as COVID-19 mitigation efforts, will depress property sales in The Woodlands which will result in lower appraised values and decreased property tax revenue. As a result, all current projections of future Township tax revenue are now obsolete and the current economic uncertainty renders any new projections unreliable.”

Township Board Chairman Gordy Bunch said the decision of whether or not the incorporation question would be on the November 2020 ballot has not been decided, but he said in his opinion, the township should not move forward with an incorporation vote this year due to the COVID-19 situation. The item is up for discussion Wednesday night, however Julia Novak of the Novak Consulting Group said her team will not have a presentation, but will take part in the meeting via online video conferencing.

To add the question to the ballot, Bunch reminded residents that township directors would have to approve a resolution to pose the question on the November ballot by Aug. 17.

“Our board has always communicated no decision has been made to add incorporation to a ballot and it would depend on the current conditions at the time of consideration,” Bunch said in an email to The Villager. “Today’s economic reality is not the right timing for a governance change. This decision will need to be made by the full board during our Wednesday evening (March 25) meeting.”

To provide public comment, the township recommended the following: “During the March 25, 2020 video conference Board meeting, members of the public may provide public comment by calling 877-853-5247 (toll-free), then enter ID 966 224 808 #. Calls will be taken in the order the calls are received and only during the “public comment” agenda item.”

Residents can visit the township website at https://www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/ and look for the drop down menu item “Board of Directors” and look for the live streaming option under meeting videos. The agenda is expected to be reduced to critical community governance as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

jeff.forward@chron.com

Original Article from: https://www.yourconroenews.com/neighborhood/woodlands/news/article/Woodlands-to-host-virtual-board-meeting-Wednesday-15156549.php