The first was a shortage in the Police Department's "Personal Services" account (i.e., salaries) of $48,397.68. According to the resolution passed to transfer funds, the shortage "was caused by the retirement and incentive payments made to police retirees." In discussion at the meeting, it was explained that funds for the position of someone who was retiring had been eliminated from the 2014 budget even though the position had not been eliminated.
Then there was an additional $20,000 needed for the city attorney's office. The resolution authorizing the transfer of funds and the amendment of the budget began: "WHEREAS, the Mayor desires to reorganize the City Attorney's office and provide for establishment of an office and staff for the City Attorney within City Hall. . . ." In August, city attorney Cheryl Roberts left the law firm of Rapport Meyers and moved into an office somewhere in City Hall. In speaking of the resolution, Council president Don Moore explained that "we did not fully anticipate what [having the city attorney resident in City Hall] would mean and did not adequately budget for it." Of the $20,000, $5,000 is a negotiated raise for assistant city attorney Carl Whitbeck, and $15,000 is for "support staff." Moore assured the aldermen that, with the additional expenditures, "the Council will have more direct legal service than we've had in the past."
The third item omitted from the 2014 budget was the mayor's health insurance buyout. The mayor, as do all elected officials, has the option of not accepting the health insurance offered by the City and taking instead the money the City would have spent for it, which according to Moore is $2,000.
The fourth item left out of the 2014 budget was the money needed to keep the heat and the electricity on at 701 Union Street until work on rehabbing the building for the police department and city court begins in May or June.
The fifth item was parking meters for the new parking spaces created in the 700 block of Columbia Street and a few other places that it seems need meters.
The answer was provided by Gary Graziano, the police commissioner. It seems the police had seized the car at some point, in connection with an arrest, and had been using it--presumably for undercover operations. The police department no longer has use for the car and so has turned it over to DPW to be sold at auction. [NOTE: The car in the photograph is a 1999 BMW 323i, but it is not the 1999 BMW 323i to be auctioned by DPW.]
Since November, a local law has been on the aldermen's desks that would replace Hudson's Planning Commission with a Planning Board. Moore announced that there will be a public hearing on the law at 6:30 p.m. on February 10, prior to the February informal meeting of the Common Council.
Before calling for a motion to go into executive session to discuss "the settlement of a foreclosure issue," Moore entertained questions from the audience. Marie Balle wanted to know if the Common Council was going to vote to approve the sale of half the community garden to Habitat for Humanity. Without acknowledging that misinformation had originally been reported in the press, Roberts indicated that the Council did not have to vote on the sale because the property was owned not by the City but by Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency, and that board had already approved the sale.
After the topic of the sale of half the community garden to Habitat for Humanity had been introduced, Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) expressed the opinion that it was time for the Council to begin a conversation with Habitat for Humanity about being more "county-centric" rather than "city-centric," pointing out that the organization is Columbia County Habitat for Humanity not Hudson Habitat for Humanity.
Moore was quick to say that he did not wish to chair such a discussion. (Moore's wife is a member of the Habitat staff.) Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) also declined to chair the discussion, although he said he was no longer on the Habitat board. Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) also declined, saying that he, as minority leader, was on the HCDPA board. Finally, Marston volunteered to chair the discussion. Haddad went on to say that he thought Habitat needed to be "more reflective" going forward and should be urged to rehabilitate existing houses in Hudson rather than always building new. He reiterated his suggestion that the Council should "start a conversation with Habitat."
Marston requested that a discussion with Habitat for Humanity be added to the Council agenda for February, and Moore agreed to do so.
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