Furgary Boat Club The meeting began with consideration of a letter from Mayor William Hallenbeck, asking the Council to move on plans for the site of the Furgary Boat Club. The following paragraph is from that letter:
Over the past few months there has been at least three attempts, and in some cases break-ins committed at a few of these shacks. The longer the City takes to decide the future of this area, the more dangerous I believe it becomes by the individuals committing these acts. I once again call on the Council as I have done in recent emails, to discuss with a sense of urgency the future of the shacks. I ask that you consider moving by way of resolution the next course of action for this North Bay area.Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) made the point that moving forward required a "game plan," and to his knowledge there was none. About the shacks, he asked, "How many will we preserve?"
Friedman suggested that the issue be taken up at the Economic Development Committee meeting, which is scheduled for October 18, and, since the Columbia Land Conservancy's plan for North Bay involves this area, that Peter Paden, CLC's executive director, be invited to the meeting. Responding to this suggestion, city attorney Cheryl Roberts said that "the lawyers"--for the City, Columbia County, and CLC--should meet first, since Columbia County owns the capped landfill and "doesn't want to take on the liability of having people in there," and the meeting of the lawyers won't happen until November.
Youth Director The mayor's communication also requested that the Council consider his request to "by way of local law . . . remove from the Hudson City Code sections C24-5 and C24-7, all references to a 'Youth Director' thus eliminating the position of Youth Director from the Hudson City Youth Department." This request was prompted by the resignation last Friday of current youth director Mary Hunter, who had been hired only three months ago. (See Tom Casey's story in today's Register-Star: "Months into job, city's youth director resigns.") Hallenbeck's goal in abolishing the position seems to be to reappropriate the $27,000 now paid to the youth director to fund programs.
By and large, the Council did not seem to share Hallenbeck's enthusiasm for abolishing the position. Alderman Wanda Pertilla (Second Ward) said she thought that the position had been filled too soon with Hunter's hiring and suggested that the Council needed "to take a good look at how we're going to proceed." Similarly, Alderman Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward) said she didn't want to do away with the position but wanted to "take some time to find the right person and define the position better." The goal is to find someone who can plan and oversee programs both for youth and for seniors.
On the topic of funding programs, it appears that the only program that has not been funded is the karate program. During the discussion, Pertilla mentioned that the karate instructor is paid $500 a month. She went on to say that "kids who were utilizing the program could afford to pay, and some kids weren't from Hudson." These are the same issues that were raised two years ago about the very popular yoga program for seniors: the people participating could afford to pay, and some of them didn't live in Hudson. The solution in the case of the yoga program was to establish fees for participants--a slightly higher one for nonresidents. This could be the solution for karate as well, but one wonders if Hudson can have a vibrant and viable program for youth or for seniors if there is an underlying assumption that these programs should only appeal to and exist for the neediest members of our community.
Tax Foreclosure Sale Two resolutions were introduced to sell two properties offered at auction on September 29--208-212 Mill Street and 66 North Third Street--for amounts less than what had been the minimum bids. After the first resolution was introduced, Roberts raised the question of whether the winning bids could be considered "fair market value" and indicated that she needed to check with the state comptroller's office to find out if it was legal for the City to sell the properties for these amounts. It should be remembered that the minimum bid for a property in a tax foreclosure auction is the amount of back taxes due on the property.
Comparing the numbers for these two properties is an interesting exercise. The highest bid on 208-212 Mill Street was $15,000. The minimum bid--i.e., the amount due in back taxes--was $17,942. In the final assessment rolls for 2012, the "full market value" of the property--the amount on which property tax is calculated--is $47,000. City treasurer Eileen Halloran described this property as being "full of water."
The comparative numbers for 66 North Third Street are similar: the highest bid was $22,000; the minimum bid (total of unpaid taxes) was $46,700; the "full market value" in the 2012 tax rolls was $68,000. Halloran described this house as having places in the walls where light came through.
Halloran spoke in support of selling the properties to the highest bidders, describing them both as being in "terrible, terrible condition" and saying that she doubted that "any real effort went to assessing the properties" for 2012.
Stewart made the point that if the Council authorized the sale of these properties for the highest bids, the City would be losing $27,000 in back taxes ($27,642 to be exact). Halloran countered by saying that overall in the foreclosure auction the City had recouped more than the total amount of owed in taxes on the seized properties. She didn't have the exact figures at hand, but Gossips reported them on September 29. If the City sells 208-212 Mill Street and 66 North Third Street for $15,000 and $22,000 respectively, the total amount recouped from the sale of all five foreclosed properties will be $121,809--$15,222 more than the total amount owed in back taxes, which was $106,587.