Sam Pratt recently published his Hudson Assessments: Part V, which analyzes assessment figures ward by ward from 1999 to 2010. His numbers confirm what I have suspected for a while: individual property owners in the First Ward are paying a great deal to keep the City afloat, but, because of the weighted vote in the Common Council, they--along with the residents of the Fourth Ward--have the least say in how the government actually works.
In the tentative rolls for 2010, the average per parcel assessment for residential properties in the First Ward is $213,641. Compare that with the Fifth Ward, where the average assessment for residential properties is $140,100. We can extrapolate that the average Fifth Ward resident is paying about two-thirds the amount of property tax as the average First Ward resident, but the two aldermen who represent the Fifth Ward wield three times the clout that representatives of the First Ward do because of the weighted vote. For a simple majority, which requires 1,011 affirmative votes, the vote of each First Ward alderman represents only 94 votes while the vote of each Fifth Ward alderman represents 278 votes. If the Fifth Ward aldermen vote together, as they typically do, they're more than halfway there.
Beloved as our historic ward divisions are, it's time to redraw the election districts in Hudson, as has been proposed by the Hudson Democratic Committee, to give them all equal population and do away with the weighted vote. A good start would be to divide the Third and Fifth wards, which already have two districts, into separate electoral divisions, giving the City seven wards instead of five. Then the ward boundaries need to be adjusted so that the population of all the wards is the same. Once this is done, each ward should have one representative instead of two, reducing the size of the Common Council from ten aldermen with disparate numbers of votes to seven aldermen each with one vote. It's an idea whose time has come.