The Woodlands Township
Position No. 4
TPP endorses Bruce Rieser
Bruce Rieser and Chris Grice are running for the open seat vacated by Ed Robb.
Bruce Rieser retired from British Airways as the Director of Properties in The Americas in 2010, where he was responsible for all real estate assets and airport relationships in the Western Hemisphere, and operated an annual budget in excess of $150 million. Since then, he has founded SKR Consulting LLC, which is currently advising clients at Bush Intercontinental Airport on the $1.6 billion Mickey Leland International Terminal replacement project.
Mr. Rieser and his family moved to The Woodlands in 1989, and have long been leaders in the community, though this is his first run for public office. Among other positions, he is the past Vice President of the Children’s Assessment Center Foundation Board, which provides services for sexually abused children, and the Past President of the British American Business Association Southwest, which promotes trade between the United States and Great Britain. He and his wife are also leaders at WoodsEdge Church.
Mr. Rieser has also long been involved in conservative politics, having donated to a number of candidates nationwide, as well as being very active in campaigning for local conservative candidates and issues. Recently, Mr. Rieser was a leader in the fight to defeat the May 2015 Montgomery County Road Bond including The Woodlands Parkway extension project.
Mr. Rieser says the three main reasons he is running for office are:
- To represent the residents of The Woodlands.
- To lead the board through the issues currently facing them, which are mainly taxation, transportation, and self-governance.
- To do what he can to protect the quality of life that we have come to expect in The Woodlands.
Mr. Rieser says the qualities that make him best suited for this office are:
- His extensive experience in real estate, budgeting and planning, and negotiations and contracting.
- His ability to build consensus through reason and persuasion.
- His personal integrity and honesty.
Mr. Rieser believes that the board has improved significantly with the addition of Gordy Bunch, John McMullan, and Laura Fillault. He says that prior to their arrival on the board, there was a distinct lack of concern for the residents of The Woodlands, and that the needs of the operating company and big money developer interests always came first. In reviewing the Township’s budget, he believes they have been reasonably frugal. However, he says, there are always some issues that need further scrutiny, most notably the Alpha Omega Security Services contract for the mounted services in Town Center. He says that the level of taxation has declined steadily in the last five years on a per capita basis, as the tax base has expanded and home appraisals have continued to increase. He says that the level of debt is comparatively low for a community of our size and the board continues to aggressively pay it down. However, he is critical of the board’s last minute decision to remove the $2.5 million incorporation reserve fund, as he believes this shows a lack of vision and preparation for the long-term well being of our community.
Mr. Rieser says the top three challenges facing the Township are:
- Taxation: Mr. Rieser says now that The Woodlands is essentially built out from a residential standpoint, going forward the Township will not have the luxury of an ever-expanding property tax base. While the Township budget is funded predominantly through sales taxes (40%) and property taxes (36%), sales tax revenues have been flat for the last four years and hotel occupancy taxes are down 15%. He says that if sales taxes remain flat, there will be more pressure on property taxes to make up the difference. He says that it is fortunate that the Township has relatively little debt, and can ease the transition with reserve funds. He says that he would advocate returning to a zero-based budgeting approach each year where the Township examines all areas of the budget to look for potential efficiencies that will allow them to use as little of the residents’ tax dollars as possible.
- Mobility: Mr. Rieser says he is proud to have publicly fought against The Woodlands Parkway extension, but that the current South County Mobility Study shows that there is no relief to be found for The Woodlands. He says that building six-lane thoroughfares through residential areas will destroy our small town feel and transform our east-west boulevards into parking lots. He says there needs to be investment in the “loop” roads around The Woodlands - SH 242, FM 1488, FM 2978, and I-45 and its feeder roads - to move traffic around The Woodlands, not through it.
- Self Governance: Mr. Rieser says he wants the residents to have the opportunity to control their own destiny. He says that we will face incorporation at some point, either willingly by voting to incorporate, or unwillingly through the extra territorial jurisdictions of Houston and/or Conroe. He says he would work to get impartial advice on what additional services will need to be provided in the event of incorporation, and vote to set aside reserve funds specifically for incorporation expenses. He also says he would advocate for a series of public hearings to educate and to receive feedback from the constituents.
Mr. Rieser has proven his love for The Woodlands in his knowledge of the issues, as well as his long history of advocacy on behalf of the community. For these reasons, we proudly endorse him.
Chris Grice has a long employment history in the banking industry, and is currently the Senior Vice President of Amegy Bank of Texas, where he has managed private banking for Montgomery and North Harris County since 2005. In 2014, he was elected to the Montgomery County Hospital District, where he serves as treasurer. His civic involvement includes serving as Chairman of the Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Advisory Committee, Board Member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Board Member of Grace Point Counseling Center, Past Chairman of The Woodlands Economic Development Partnership, Past Director of Reid Road Municipal Utility District, Past Director of Harris County Municipal Utility District 387, past Board Member of the Lone Star Family Health Center, and past Board Member of the Montgomery County YMCA.
Mr. Grice has donated to several local campaigns over the years, including: Bruce Tough, whose support for The Woodlands Parkway extension project led to his defeat by conservative Laura Fillault; Jay Mac Sanders, another supporter of The Woodlands Parkway extension project who challenged conservative incumbent Commissioner James Noack and was soundly defeated; State Rep. Rob Eissler, who was one of the most liberal Republican members of the State House, and who was later defeated by conservative Steve Toth; and Congressman Kevin Brady, who is one of the least conservative Republican members of Congress.
Mr. Grice says the three main reasons he is running for office are:
- To work to keep our taxes low.
- To take a thoughtful approach to incorporation.
- To work with the county and state agencies to solve our mobility issues.
Mr. Grice says the three main qualities that make him best qualified for office are:
- His extensive financial background with over 38 years in the banking industry.
- His public service on both the MCHD Board of Directors and over 20 years of serving on two different MUD boards.
- His service on several nonprofit boards in the community.
Mr. Grice says that the Township is mostly fulfilling its role effectively by providing essential services for a low cost, balancing taxes with building reserves for capital projects and a rainy day fund for hard times. He believes the current tax rate is acceptable.
Mr. Grice says the top three challenges facing the Township are:
- Incorporation: Mr Grice says it will be tough to determine when the time is right to incorporate. He says a law will have to be passed in the legislature allowing a community of our size to incorporate. He says we need to build a reserve fund for to help pay for incorporation, and determine the expense of maintaining our roads and bridges. However, it is important to note that Mr. Grice supported the recent vote to eliminate the incorporation reserve fund.
- Mobility: Mr. Grice proposes forming a task force consisting of Township, County, and State officials to review the South County Mobility Study and prioritize projects. He says that although the Township is not legally responsible for the roads and bridges, the county and state will not fund the roads if the responsibility is left to them. He proposes we pool our resources to get the projects done faster. However, it is important to note that project prioritization is already conducted by HGAC, and that the state does not fund any roads within The Woodlands, other than I-45.
- Clear cutting: Mr. Grice says he believes the standards set by The Woodlands at its inception should be maintained and enforced, which means working closer with developers and citizens to ensure adherence to restrictions.
We are not recommending Chris Grice for the following reasons:
- Mr. Grice has aligned himself with the false propaganda being spread by Bruce Tough’s group, claiming his opponent and other residents' advocates running for office want to “incorporate now,” which they claim will raise property taxes by 70%. These numbers are not based on a tax impact study, and none of the candidates are running on a platform of incorporating immediately. All candidates should reject this propaganda.
- Mr. Grice says he wants to prepare for incorporation by building a reserve fund, yet defended the recent vote on the Township board to eliminate the fund and transfer the money to capital contingency fund- a slush fund. He says he would have handled it differently, however, by voting to place the money in the road and bridge fund.
- Mr. Grice supports using Township funds to fund roads and bridges, for which The Woodlands residents already pay taxes to the county. This amounts to double taxation. The Woodlands residents should rightfully be concerned that the county does not spend enough money as a percentage of the budget on mobility in The Woodlands and the rest of Precinct 3, considering we have the highest amount of mobility needs in the county. But the best course of action is to mobilize and petition the county to change their budgeting practices, rather than jump into a double-taxation scenario, which sets a bad precedent for the future. It is also important to note that Mr. Grice frequently mentions leveraging state funds for roads in The Woodlands. The state will not fund any roads in The Woodlands, as they are county roads. The only project in Montgomery County precinct 3 that the state might contribute to is the proposed SPUI at the intersection of The Woodlands Parkway and I-45.