Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spending the Public's Money

Two resolutions came before the Common Council on Tuesday night that had to do with money and the equipment required to operate a municipality. The first resolution was to approve the purchase of a new loader needed by the Department of Public Works to load snow onto dump trucks and haul it away. The second involved a number of transfers within Fire Department accounts to amass a total of $15,449.59 in the account designated for maintenance and repair of equipment. About $9,000 of this total is needed for repairs to Tower 32, the KME AerialCat purchased in 2001.

At one point in the meeting, Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward), who had done his own due diligence on the purchase of the loader and was satisfied that the City was getting a good price, reprimanded Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) for his impatience with any discussion about expenditures that come before the Council for approval. "It seems," Haddad told Donahue, "that you think money just falls from the sky." Haddad went on to say, "We need to spend more time with the public's money." Donahue defended himself by saying, "I take the opinion of the professionals."

In the discussion about the transfer of funds within the fire department accounts, Haddad pointed out that the City has spent $150,000 in repairs to the AerialCat since it was purchased in 2001. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) observed that Tower 32 was costing the City an average of almost $15,000 a year in repairs. Alderman Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward) defended the tower by saying, "The problem is that it had to sit outside at the beginning," because there was no place to store it.

Pierro's comment was a reminder that the acquisition of the giant ladder truck was the impetus--or so it seemed to the observer--for consolidating the fire companies, thus ending a grand two-century long tradition in Hudson, and necessitated the construction of the central firehouse--a project that taxpayers were told would be budget neutral. The City would sell the historic firehouses for $500,000 each to raise the $3 million needed to pay for the new firehouse. Sadly, none of it happened that way. Only one of the firehouses--Rogers Hose, now American Glory--sold for anything like $500,000 (C. H. Evans, sold in a private sale, went for something like $125,000; the two firehouses on Park Place, which it was discovered had to be sold as one building not two, were sold together at auction for slightly more than $300,000; Hoysradt Hose & Chemical Company refused to be consolidated, so that firehouse could not be sold; and the City decided, wisely, to keep the Washington Hose Company firehouse at the entrance to Promenade Hill), and the new central fire station ended up costing more like $4.5 million--50 percent more than the public was originally told it would.


  1. It's my understanding the money accrued from the sale of the firehouses , intended to help pay down the price tag on the new firehouse, disappeared without trace or further interest.

  2. Shall we also mention the bid out on a half-a-million dollar new firetruck? While I have the utmost respect for the incalculable service our Volunteer Firemen provide this City, it has become necessary & calculable to ask; Just how much fire equipment can we really afford?

    The old argument about having to replace every engine because not doing so would negatively effect our ISO rating, thereby causing insurance rates to rise, truly falls on deaf ears when our HFD ISO scores are 2/9 on training. Certainly, a 5/5 on engines is good, but at what cost when other areas could see such vast improvement? All the while our Commissioner will not even entertain a conversation about shared services (HFD supports Greene County through mutual aid), and now this embezzlement scandal? Respect is a two-way street, and the City sure has sure been getting shorted lately.