The Sugar Land City Council approved plans to officially incorporate the communities of Greatwood and New Territory on Tuesday, November 15, 2016. The annexation will increase Sugar Land’s population by 34% according to a press release on the city’s website. Residents of Greatwood and New Territory will gain enhanced public services, and current Sugar Land residents will benefit from additional revenue.
For the last ten years, Greatwood and New Territory have been under the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction of Sugar Land, meaning Sugar Land’s government has had the legal ability to exercise authority over the districts without them formally being a part of the city.
The plan to adopt Greatwood and New Territory began with public hearings held on October 2 and 17, 2007 to discuss Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPAs) with each district. The SPAs act as contracts between Sugar Land and the two Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) – special purpose districts created to provide public utilities to its residents – and provide that annexation is to occur, at the latest, on the date that any remaining debt to the MUDs is payed off.
On November 15, the Sugar Land City Council approved Ordinance No. 2075, which sets the date of December 12, 2017 as the official annexation date, guarantees Sugar Land will provide full city services to its new residents, and establishes that there will be no additional cost to current Sugar Land residents.
A press release posted on the City of Sugar Land’s website on November 15 asserted that pre-annexation costs will be covered by money set aside for the annexation by Greatwood and New Territory residents over the last ten years.
In addition to higher quality utility, safety, maintenance, regulatory, and planning services, residents of Greatwood and New Territory may also experience savings on some of these services. Currently, the Municipal Utility Districts and Homeowner’s Associations take care of services such as utilities, street repair, and public safety; after the annexation, the city will take care of these services and MUDs will be disbanded.
Journalist Amelia Brust of Community Impact declared in an article published on October 5, 2016, that a main concern for Greatwood and New Territory residents is the possibility of increased tax rates, but said that residents could end up paying less in property taxes to Sugar Land than they paid to their MUDs.
Sugar Land residents will benefit from a larger tax base with the addition of nearly 30,000 new residents. Some of the increased revenue might be used to address mobility concerns for bicyclists and pedestrians, land development, and the creation of parks, open spaces, leisure services such as theme parks and resorts, and other large entertainment venues.