Sugar Land has come a long way since it was a mere sugar plantation. It’s now one of the fastest growing cities in Texas, with a population that has exploded a staggering 158 percent just from 2000 to 2010.
And next month, the city is about to get bigger.
On December 12, a decade-long plan in the making will come to fruition: The city is annexing Greatwood and New Territory, two master-planned communities just outside city limits. The annexation adds 30,000 people to Sugar Land’s population and 2,500 acres to its total land area.
Sugar Land first signed an annexation and services agreement with the nine municipal utilities districts (MUDs) that serve Greatwood and New Territory in 2007. The agreement dissolves those MUDs and the city will take over those services.
"It’s a win-win," says assistant city manager Jim Callaway. "The communities that are being annexed secure critical services. I think they save substantial expenses on their groundwater conversion requirements."
Greatwood and New Territory residents currently have nine different tax and utility rates from those nine MUDs, and pay a surcharge for services such as being part of the Sugar Land Fire Department’s jurisdiction and the city’s groundwater reduction plan. In less than a month, those surcharges and MUD taxes will go away and residents will be charged city tax rates instead, and Sugar Land will begin maintaining Greatwood and New Territory’s infrastructure.
"City residents should not be [impacted]," says Callaway. "They should not see any reduction in city services or any increase in their cost of service. The annexation is financially neutral to them."
The city has hired more staff to accommodate the increase in service for Greatwood and New Territory, paid for with $10 million the city has saved since 2007 for the costs of annexation. Twenty-one police officers, eight public safety dispatchers and 14 public works and utilities staffers have already been hired to be ready for day one, Callaway said. The city will add 73 positions total by the end of the next fiscal year, including those already hired, and has added 36 vehicles to its fleet.
Callaway said that lately he’s been asked if the city is prepared for this change, to which he says he's “very confident we have this under control.”
“It’s pretty anti-climactic for a lot of people,” Callaway added. “One, because a lot of people have been expecting this, and two, a lot of people [in these communities] thought they were already in the city.”