4. The Woodlands was denied CARES Act funds from Harris and Montgomery County because we were not a city.
Harris County and Montgomery County treated The Woodlands like a city. We received $715,000 from Harris County to reimburse for March 2020 Covid-related Fire Dept. personnel expenses. We received $244,199 from Montgomery County to reimburse for Covid-related expenses – more than any other city and 3X as much as Conroe, the next largest city recipient.
The Pandemic, like Hurricane Harvey, was used as a justification to incorporate. The Chairman stated at the 4/22/20 Board meeting (at 31:55) that he had asked the incorporation consultants to consider the “distinct differences” between a Township and a City in terms of the COVID Pandemic.
When CARES Act was passed in May 2020, the Chairman repeatedly and falsely claimed the Township was denied CARES Act dollars because we are not a city. The Chairman stated “The simple answer on the CARES Act funding: Had we been a city, there would have been $21 million that would have been directly distributed to the Township.” at the 7/16/20 Board meeting at 1:28:50.
CARES Act funding was used as a justification for incorporation and to mislead residents into believing that by becoming a city, they would collect millions of dollars from the federal government. At the 6/18/20 Board meeting, at 1:52:28, Chairman Bunch claimed that “if we were a municipality it [CARES Act funding] would have been close to $21M” in a discussion with the lead incorporation consultant. The Chairman then referenced an earlier discussion with her about the Pandemic (perhaps the 4/22/20 discussion or a task force discussion?) and then “asked” her to change the Pros and Cons in her report by “maybe add things like CARES Act funding [to New Revenue Sources].”
After nearly a year of claiming that the Township was ineligible for CARES Act funds because we weren’t a city, Chairman Bunch reluctantly admitted at the 5/26/21 Board meeting at 41:18 that “the CARES Act funding shortfall of nearly $6M has nothing to do with us being a city.” However, the repeated false claim that we lost out on COVID funding because we were not a city has been absorbed by the residents and is now being spread throughout the community on social media, with friends and at Board meetings. Please gently correct those who make this inaccurate claim.
Of course, the reality is, that we were treated like other cities. After submitting a request certifying $517,000 in Covid-related March 2020 Fire Dept. personnel expenses, we were reimbursed, per Harris County’s plan. Montgomery County awarded us $244,199 in reimbursable Covid-related expenses, per their plan – 3X the amount received by Conroe. Eventually, as this became known, Chairman Bunch reluctantly moved on from his claim that we couldn’t collect because we weren’t incorporated.