Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Midday with the HDC

The board of the Hudson Development Corporation met today at noon, and several members of the public--more than could be comfortably accommodated in the room--showed up to observe.

Board president Bob Rasner opened the meeting by addressing the issues of how the board votes and how HDC deals with the open meetings law. He explained that he and Steve Dunn, HDC board member who is acting as its legal counsel, investigated these issues and confirmed that HDC must have its meetings open to the public, but the board is not obligated to accept public comment. "Public comment," said Rasner, "is a privilege not a right." He went on to say that the board would receive comment from the public at the end of the meeting, but comments must be addressed to the chair. Members of the public should not try to engage members of the board in questions and answers.

Rasner then explained that, to remedy the problem of the anonymous vote for new board members, the ballots from that vote had been returned to the board members who had voted. The board members reclaimed their ballots and added their names and signatures. Those ballots were now on file. 

At the end of the meeting, after Phil Forman was elected to the board and officers--Nick Hadded as vice president, Phil Forman as treasurer, and Paul Barrett as secretary--were elected using paper ballots on which board members were asked to print and sign their names, Rasner, after reporting that there had been no negative votes, addressed the issue of the board's meeting time. He reiterated the statement issued last week (and quoted by Gossips yesterday) that, to accommodate requests from the public, HDC had changed its meeting time from 12 noon to 6 p.m., but since few if any members of the public showed up for the 6 p.m. meetings they were going back to the board's traditional meeting time of 12 noon. He also noted that at today's noon meeting the room was full and promised, "We will seek an alternative location if we consistently have too many people." 

Rasner then opened the meeting to public comment, setting a three-minute limit on each person's time to speak. The first speaker was Julie Metz, who read a prepared statement that went on for longer than three minutes. When Rasner interrupted her, he asked that she submit the statement to the board. She agreed to do this. The statement, which she subsequently shared with Gossips, follows:
According to their mission statement HDC aims to “create jobs and enhance the quality of life in the City of Hudson.” I have considered this mission statement in my following comments.
After two plus years of a bungled RFP process, HDC was ready to hand over the entire KAZ waterfront property to a developer without community input. Good urban decision-making happens in reverse order: first invite community input, engage professional planners, then send out an RFP. After pushback, and being called out for excessive use of executive sessions, HDC announced that it was prepared to invite “stakeholder buy-in” in Hudson.
And so, recently, a number of qualified people applied, eager to serve. Some have renovated properties in Hudson that are now the sites of thriving hotels, restaurants, and retail. With extensive development experience, they represent Hudson’s future, not its past. One might ask why the two members of HDC who are elected to represent Hudson’s citizens weren’t part of the nominating committee.
A number of highly qualified applicants were rejected. However, according to reports from last month’s HDC meeting, your nominating committee stated that no one had applied and that they had to do outreach in the community to fill spots. This is clearly what we who strive to live in a world of facts call false.
And what is the result of HDC’s latest search for members? You have accepted Paul Colarusso, whose company mine produces excellent gravel. I have a good amount of it in my own back yard. But I do have a problem with this board adding a member whose company blatantly violated Hudson land use laws and then sued the city. In his January 19, 2019 ruling tossing out Colarusso’s suit against Hudson, Judge Melkonian wrote: “the petition is dismissed in its entirety” and “Petitioners are not entitled to any declaratory relief.” The judgment states that “inasmuch as petitioners’ nonconforming use had ceased, they would be required to obtain a conditional use permit for their continued commercial dock operations.” I urge the City to enforce Judge Melkonian’s decision. Colarusso must follow the same laws as the rest of us. . . .
How can the owner of a company that blatantly violated Hudson zoning laws, and then attacked our land use authority, and then lost in court, and cost the city money in legal fees be put in a position of making land use decisions? How can a company that sees an expanded gravel dump on the water as a positive development help determine plans for the nearby KAZ site? HDC evidently thinks this is a good idea, as it previously supported this concept in the false language (since retracted) in the DRI grant written by your former Executive Director. HDC evidently thinks Mr. Colarusso’s presence on this board is a good idea in spite of the appearance and blatant facts of multiple conflicts of interest this presents because:
1) members of the planning board sit on HDC, and
2) Colarusso has an application before the Planning Board regarding the requirement for a conditional use permit.
If KAZ had roads to pave, I’m sure Mr. Colarusso’s company would be an excellent candidate for the job after the review is over. But he should not be representing the citizens of Hudson in development decision-making. 
The story continues. After recruiting Mr. Colarusso and several others, HDC leadership conducted an anonymous vote. Ken Dow, city attorney, states that this is a violation of New York State law. Since the ballots were not made public, this vote is cloaked in the kind of secrecy HDC has consistently employed. The public deserves to know how each of you voted.
To the majority of this board who voted for Paul Colarusso: shame on you. His presence on HDC is a blatant conflict of interest in every imaginable way given that the matter of the company’s dock and proposed road has in no way been settled. Yet, when members of the public made note of this conflict of interest at the last HDC meeting, Mr. Rasner shut down all further public comment. So much for “stakeholder buy-in.”
There is no clearer evidence of HDC’s irrelevance, incompetence, and complete inability to represent Hudson than selecting Mr. Colarusso over other applicants, whose businesses have created vastly more jobs in Hudson, and are friends and neighbors with skin in the game. They represent Hudson’s future, not its past.  They are the backbone of Hudson’s economic revival, and this board rejected them out of hand.
HDC has shown disdain for transparency, has shown no interest in “stakeholder buy-in,” and has therefore lost the trust of this community. HDC should be shut down and the KAZ project moved to a city entity that represents the interests of Hudson’s citizens. The state of California eliminated “development corporations” like HDC because of similar behavior that has nothing to do with serving communities. HDC has lost sight of its mission and is now like a tiny island principality whose out-of-touch royals refuse to cede a single inch of territory, though the waters are rising fast.  
Metz made it to the beginning of the sixth paragraph before her three minutes were up. The only other comment from the public was a question asked by Linda Mussmann, who wanted to know who HDC's legal counsel was. She was told that Steve Dunn was acting as counsel. The meeting, which lasted forty-five minutes, was then adjourned.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

The month of April--which T. S. Eliot called "the cruelest month"--is almost over, but the last full week of April is jam-packed with meetings and events--some promising to be contentious, others not so much.

On Monday, April 22, there are two Common Council committee meetings: the Fire Committee meets at 5:30 p.m.; the Police Committee meets at 6 p.m. Both meetings take place at City Hall. No agenda is available for either meeting.

On Tuesday, April 23, the Hudson Development Corporation board meets at 12 noon at 1 North Front Street. The calendar on the City of Hudson website indicates that this meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Addressing that problem, HDC issued the following statement last week: 
To clear up the confusion about meeting times: The HDC meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month. In the past the Board traditionally met at noon, but at the request of several public attendees, changed the meeting time to 6 p.m. to accommodate their schedules. The board met for three months at 6 p.m. and public attendance dropped to just one or two individuals. None of those individuals that demanded the time change attended 6 p.m. meetings. Thus, we have returned to a noon meeting schedule. 
Among the items of business before the board will no doubt be the charge that new members of the board were elected illegally at the board's March meeting.

Also on Tuesday, April 23the Tourism Board meets at 5:30 p.m. at 1 North Front Street. At its last meeting, the board was still debating whether or not to use $20,000 of its $140,000 budget to help fund such community events as Flag Day, Winter Walk, and the Halloween Parade. At the informal meeting of the Common Council on April 8, Council president Tom DePietro and Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, spoke of amending the lodging tax law to defund the Tourism Board, making the board's role not to spend a designated portion of the revenue from the City's lodging tax but simply to propose projects to the Council to be funded with that revenue.

On Wednesday, April 24, the Common Council holds a special meeting at 5 p.m., the purpose of which is to discuss next steps in the ongoing city-wide revaluation. Last Tuesday, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to terminate the City's contract with GAR Associates, the consultants hired to do the revaluation. On Friday, the mayor vetoed that resolution. On Wednesday, the Council is expected to vote to override the mayor's veto, as well as to discuss how they plan to proceed if the assessment roll is rejected before the tentative assessments are submitted on May 1. The meeting takes place in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street.

Also on Wednesday, April 24, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:15 p.m., also presumably in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library. No agenda is available for this meeting, but it is expected the committee will take up the issue of revising the lodging tax law as it pertains to the duties and responsibilities of the Tourism Board, among other things.
On Thursday, April 25, we all get to take a little break from the sturm und drang of City governance and politics to dine out for a good cause. The Alliance for Positive Health is holding its sixteenth annual Dining Out for Life event. On Thursday, participating restaurants throughout the Northeast contribute a percentage of their sales to HIV/AIDS-related programs and services. The restaurants in Hudson where you can dine out for life are Baba Louie's, Ca' Mea, Helsinki Hudson, and the Red Dot. 

On Friday, April 26, the Historic Preservation Commission holds its second meeting of the month at 10 a.m. in City Hall. At its last meeting, the HPC began a discussion of how it might intervene to prevent the loss of historic integrity as a result of neglect and demolition by neglect in historic districts. This discussion may or may not be continued at this Friday's meeting. 

Also, on Friday, April 26, the Tourism Board pursues its understood yet controversial task: "to take all reasonable steps it determines desirable, necessary and proper to market the City of Hudson as a destination for overnight and daytrip visitors." From 1 to 5 p.m., the board will be hearing presentations from two of the four consulting firms being considered to help develop a marketing and branding strategy: Neo Design Group and Fifteen Degrees. The four-hour session takes place at 1 North Front Street.

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Another Thing to Care About

Since 2017, we have seen protections for the environment, wilderness areas, and national parks weakened. Now the National Park Service is proposing changes to the regulations governing the listing of properties in the National Register of Historic Places. Among the proposed changes is one that would ensure that if the owners of a majority of the land area in a proposed historic district object to the listing, the proposed district will not be listed over their objection. This change would definitely weaken the law's ability to recognize and protect districts of historic significance. 

Comments about the proposed rule can be submitted until 11:59 p.m. on April 30. Click here for more information about the proposal and for information about submitting comments.

If You Missed It

The first event organized by a group called Future Hudson took place yesterday afternoon. The panel discussion--"What Makes Hudson a Great City?"--featured Joe Czajka from Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, Kaya Kühl from the Hudson Valley Initiative at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, and Dan D'Oca from Interboro, a Brooklyn-based architecture, urban design, and planning firm. Fourth Ward alderman John Rosenthal moderated the discussion, and Dan Udell was there to record it. The video of the event can be viewed here.

Future Hudson is planning an event every third Saturday of the month from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library. The next event, scheduled for Saturday, May 18, will be a community conversation on the challenge of developing a sustainable local economy, with the title "How Does Hudson Grow?" Click here to see the schedule through August. 

It was also announced at Saturday's meeting that James Howard Kunstler, best known for his book The Geography of Nowhere, who was brought to Hudson by Friends of Hudson back in 2002 or 2003, in the days of the cement plant battle, will be returning on Thursday, May 30, to present a talk called "The American Small Town Is Where It's At. Let's Get It Right."  

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happening Before Our Eyes

By coincidence, two different readers alerted me today to two different buildings in Hudson suffering problems as a consequence of being vacant and neglected. The first is 501 Union Street, once known as "Apartments of Distinction."

The building was constructed c. 1864. From 1883 to 1896, it was the location of the Home for the Aged, before the home moved upstreet to 620 Union Street, where it stayed until it ceased to exist in 2014.

In 2013, the building got a new slate mansard roof and the chimneys were re-created, but since then, nothing much has happened. Today, the wall facing South Fifth Street is crumbling. The hole created by the bricks falling away is reported to go through to the interior.

The other is a humbler building, with a less distinguished past: 250 Allen Street.

A brick chimney on the house's east wall is crumbling. There is a hole that goes completely through to the interior.

And the wood of the little gable roof over the door is rotting.

Both buildings are owned by Galvan Initiatives Foundation. The Galvan Group acquired 501 Union Street in 2004. Galvan Partners acquired 250 Allen Street in 2011. Ownership of both properties was transferred to Galvan Initiatives Foundation in 2012.

The Perennial Problem of Parking

Now ripening on the desks of the Common Council is a zoning amendment that would eliminate all offstreet parking requirements. Anyone who follows the Zoning Board of Appeals knows that the appeal most frequently before the board is one for an area variance related to parking. The code requires that eating and drinking establishments provide one offstreet parking space for every three seats in the restaurant. The requirement is totally unrealistic in an urban setting such as Hudson, and the ZBA regularly grants area variances to new restaurants and bars that cannot meet the offstreet parking requirement. Such a variance was granted just this past Monday to the new owners of 60 South Front Street, who are redeveloping the building as a restaurant and grab-and-go cafe.

In the past, there has been talk of building a multilevel parking garage to accommodate visitors to Hudson and patrons of the city's shops, restaurants, and cultural venues. In 2010, Mayor Rick Scalera had the idea of building such a parking garage on the northeast corner of Fourth and Columbia streets. In 2014, Mayor Bill Hallenbeck wanted to build a four-tier parking garage behind City Hall. More recently, one of the three ill-fated proposals for the Kaz site included a parking facility for 400 cars. To assess Hudson's  present and future parking needs and determine if a parking garage somewhere near Warren Street was really necessary, the City applied for a grant last year to fund a parking study. The application was not successful. 

At the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting last Wednesday, DPW superintendent Rob Perry presented his own Parking Space Inventory, estimating how many parking spaces existed on the street and in municipal parking lots.

The total, which includes every parking space in the entire city not just those within easy walking distance of Warren Street, is 4,242. Of more relevance when considering parking for those who come to Hudson to shop, dine, visit galleries, or attend events is that there are 469 parking spaces along Warren Street and 364 parking spaces in municipal lots on Warren Street or within one block of Warren Street, for a total of 833 spaces. Also of relevance is that the two biggest municipal lots near Warren Street--the one at 325 Columbia Street and the one behind City Hall--are rarely used in the evening or on weekends. The narrow passageway beside City Hall may discourage some people from using the lot in the 500 block, but there's another, less intimidating route to that parking lot next to The Barlow, and, to access the lot at 325 Columbia Street, there's a ramp next to a pleasant little pocket park. 

Could it be that inadequate signage is what is keeping people from using these parking lots?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Assessment Angst: Part 3

Earlier today, Mayor Rick Rector vetoed the resolution passed by the Common Council on Tuesday, authorizing him to terminate the contract with GAR Associates. His veto message reads in part:
I believe that it is our City’s mission to proceed in a transparent, equitable manner so that issues important to all City residents are addressed in a rational, fair and open manner. I also believe that all of us need time to investigate the allegations set forth in the resolution to determine their accuracy and merit.  By way of example, while the resolution’s conclusion is that the City’s contract with GAR should be terminated and the City should commence legal action against GAR seeking monetary damages for negligence and the failure to uphold professional standards, the resolution itself fails to cite any specific actions and/or omissions on the part of GAR that would support such legal action. The Common Council apparently recognized this fatal problem with the resolution in scheduling a special meeting for Wednesday, April 24, 2019 to discuss this matter further. 
The entire veto message can be found on the City website by clicking here.

Hudson: The Sixth Borough

This morning, Lisa Durfee shared this image with me, which she discovered on Instagram.

My curiosity piqued, I decided to check out Big Onion Walking Tours. On its website, I discovered that Big Onion Walking Tours has been in existence since 1991, leading people on "innovative and exciting tours through New York's ethnic neighborhoods and historic districts." Among the tours offered are "Historic Harlem," "Upper East Side: A Clash of Titans," The Annual Easter Sunday Jewish Lower East Side Tour," "Brooklyn Distilled Walking Tour," and now, its first walking tour outside of New York City, "Historic Hudson." 

Tours of Hudson are scheduled for every Saturday this spring and early summer, from May 4 through June 29, all beginning at 2:00 p.m. from the gazebo in Courthouse Square. Here's how the tour of Hudson is described:
Our walking tour will explore the diverse social history, architecture, and people of this Upstate urban center. Stops could include: Promenade Hill, Nantucket Houses, sites associated with the Underground Railroad, the most notorious Red Light district north of Times Square, and locations associated with Thomas Jefferson, Ma Brown, Charles Dickens, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jack “Legs” Diamond, Ada Louise Huxtable, and Lieutenant William H. Allen, who was killed by pirates.  
Because I'm eager to know what sites in Hudson are associated with the Underground Railroad and how Ma Brown, Charles Dickens, and Legs Diamond are connected with Hudson, I've reserved a spot for myself on the first tour, happening two weeks from tomorrow.

Another Piece of the Taxation Puzzle

On Wednesday night, at the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting, Bill Huston asked about plans for painting crosswalks and stop lines. Rob Perry, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, told him the budget item for crosswalks had been "defunded." There was money to repair the zebra stripes for existing crosswalks but no money to create crosswalks in new locations. 

In the effort to hold the 2019 city budget increase to just 3 percent, while raising the minimum wage for all city employees to $15 an hour and increasing the Youth Department budget by 47 percent, cuts had to made elsewhere. One of those places was the DPW budget, and what was sacrificed, it seems, was more crosswalks. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Could There Be a Mistake in the Zoning?

Three years ago, when Redburn Development wanted to create a hotel in an old industrial building on Cross Street, many were surprised to learn that the zoning adopted in 2011 for the Waterfront Revitalization Area, as part of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program), did not recognize hotels as a permitted use in the RSC (Residential Special Commercial) District--a new district created by the LWRP zoning.

Another surprise about those LWRP zoning amendments was revealed on Monday night at the meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals. The FASNY Museum of Firefighting wants to build a 33,000 square foot addition to the museum building, but the zoning imposed in 2011 does not recognize a museum either as a permitted use or as a conditional use. 

In the LWRP zoning, a new district called IRC--Institutional Residential Conservation--was created to apply to the Hudson Correctional Facility to the south and the Firemen's Home to the north. (Hudson High School and the Elks Club are also located in the IRC district.) Permitted uses in the IRC district are single-family dwellings, public or private parks, and recreation facilities "including but not limited to walking and biking trails, information kiosks, restroom facilities, snack bar or cafe, swimming pool, athletic fields." In the conditional uses for the IRC district, the code seems to acknowledge what was already there: hospitals, sanitariums, philanthropic or eleemosynary institutions and convalescent or nursing homes, congregate housing, or homes for the aged (the Firemen's Home); and annual membership clubs (the Elks Club). But it leaves out this conditional use: libraries, museums or art galleries or antique centers. Did the person writing the specifics of the code overlook the fact the a museum had existed since 1927 in the area now being zoned IRC?

Photo courtesy Historic Hudson
Was it really the intention of the 2011 LWRP zoning to make the FASNY Museum of Firefighting a nonconforming use, given that, to quote city attorney Andy Howard, "something is designated a nonconforming use with the notion that eventually it will go away"? I think not.

Whether or not the Zoning Board of Appeals sees its way clear to grant a use variance, the Common Council should amend the code to correct this obvious error and make "libraries, museums or art galleries or antiques centers" conditional uses in the IRC district.

Where the Wild Things Are

In the past year, we've had a moose trotting along Worth Avenue and a bear climbing a utility pole on Columbia Street. Yesterday, a raccoon was spotted hanging out in a maple tree on Union Street.

Thanks to Walter Chatham for sharing this picture

Assessment Resources

At Tuesday night's Common Council meeting, Kristal Heinz mentioned a resource that could be of use to homeowners seeking to identify alternative comparable properties to those used by GAR Associates to determine the value of their property. It can be accessed through the City of Hudson website: cityofhudson.sdgnys.com. Click on the tab "Click Here for Public Access" at the upper left. Enter your name or address to locate your property. On the "Tax Map ID/Property Data" page, there is a column of tabs at the left. Click on the last tab, "Comparables." You can then search using a number of different variables to identify properties you believe to be the best comps for your house.


This Just In

The Economic Development Committee meeting scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. has been canceled.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Sorrowful News

This evening, Abdus Miah shared the sad news that Fardush Sultana passed away today. The Zanazah (funeral prayers) will be held at Hudson High School on Friday, April 19, at 1:45 p.m.

To quote Miah, "Words cannot express the loss of such an untimely death. May Allah bless her with Jannah. Our deepest condolences and prayers for her family and loved ones."

Recognizing 225 Years of Service

Today, Mayor Rick Rector honored the 225th anniversary of the creation of the Hudson Fire Department with a proclamation, read on the steps of City Hall, declaring this day, April 17, 2019, "a day of recognition and celebration of the Hudson Fire Department’s long history and grand tradition and of acknowledgment and appreciation for the selfless service to the community rendered by our firefighters today and by all the generations of firefighters that came before them." 

Rector presenting the proclamation to First Assistant Chief Anthony DeMarco (left) and Fire Commissioner Timothy Hutchings (right)
Current apparatus of J. W. Edmonds Hose Co., Hudson's first fire company, founded on April 17, 1794, as Fire-Engine Company No. 1

Watch for Yourself

Dan Udell's video of last night's Common Council meeting--more than two hours of it--is now on YouTube and can viewed by clicking here.

Assessment Angst Continued

Last night, the Common Council passed a resolution "authorizing the mayor to terminate the City's contract with GAR." Three members of the Common Council--Rob Bujan (First Ward), Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward), and Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward)--abstained from the vote, giving as reasons for their abstentions not knowing the ramifications of halting the assessment process, needing more evidence before moving to terminate the contract, and not seeing how terminating the contract would solve the problem. Although with seven aye votes, the resolution had sufficient votes to pass, Council president Tom DePietro, who makes a point of not voting unless there is a tie, voted aye. 

On the advice of city attorney Andy Howard, the resolution was amended prior to the vote to strike the part about rejecting the preliminary assessment rolls. Howard cited New York State statute and case law to assert that neither the Common Council nor the mayor has the authority to set aside an assessment roll and reinstate a previous roll. That authority resides solely with the assessor, and the means to rectify problems and inequities is through the grieving process. Howard cautioned, "The legislative body cannot substitute its judgment for that of the assessor." One possible reason for this seems obvious: the assessment of real property should be a kind of abstract process and not subject to political pressure, but here we are in an election year, and it seems the assessments are becoming a campaign issue. Kamal Johnson (First Ward), who is challenging Mayor Rick Rector in the Democratic primary, seemed skeptical of Howard's legal opinion, asking to see the statutes and case law being cited. He also requested a second attorney's opinion on the issue. Linda Mussmann declared that the Council needed its own lawyer, claiming that Howard "represents the mayor."

Some interesting information emerged last night, not the least being that the resolution had not been written by any member of the Common Council nor did it come from any committee. It was generated by members of the public who wished to remain anonymous because, according to DePietro, they feared retribution from GAR Associates or from the Board of Assessment Review (BAR). Rather than going through a committee, as most resolutions do, this resolution was brought to the Council by DePietro.

There were many allegations, from aldermen and from the public, of incompetence in making the assessments. It was alleged that the asking price for a house currently on the market had been used as the assessment--an asking price being aspirational and likely not what the house will actually sell for. It was alleged that two identical Habitat houses had been assessed differently: the assessment for one house stayed the same, while the other tripled. It was alleged that houses on State Street were being compared with houses on Union Street. It alleged that the highest sales were being "cherry-picked" as comparables. Speaking of the comparables she has seen, Nicole Vidor declared, "All were bogus. None were on the mark."

Claudia Bruce complained that information about all comparables had not been provided, although in fact it has. The problem is that it's not presented in a very user-friendly format.

Kristal Heinz pointed out that the goal of reassessment was to bring values up to full market value and noted that dramatic increases are to be expected because "the city has not been keeping up revaluing its property." She asserted that "if everybody comes up as they should," property owners who see an increase in their assessment will not necessarily see a similar increase in their property taxes. That being said, she said she saw "no rhyme or reason" to some of the preliminary assessments and concluded that GAR "has not done a good job."

Of relevance to the idea of "everybody coming up as they should," last month Gossips asked city assessor Justin Maxwell for the assessed value of all the real property in Hudson before and after the current revaluation. In 2018, the total assessed value was $628,816,467. The total assessed value in 2019, before anything was challenged or changed, was $1,030,155,758. That's a little less than $629 million compared with a little more than $1 billion. According to my math, that is a 64 percent increase. It's no wonder people whose assessments have doubled or tripled feel that they are being unfairly assessed and fear they will be unfairly taxed or taxed beyond their means.

Steve Dunn raised several questions that went unanswered. "Let's assume," said Dunn, "the work of GAR is incompetent. What is the remedy? What is the implication of abandoning the reval process? Does it put the City in breach of state law?"

Most aldermen seemed to feel that it was critical to stop the revaluation process before May 1, which is the day that the preliminary assessment roll is presented. But if the process is halted before May 1, there will be no way of knowing if the process is actually working--if challenges have been successful and egregious errors have been corrected. Still it's understandable that people would fear the errors will not be rectified to their satisfaction, leaving the grieving process as their only recourse, and, if that fails, a lawsuit. 

After passing the resolution, the Council agreed to hold a special meeting on Wednesday, April 24, at 5:00 p.m., in the Community Room at the Hudson Area Library, to discuss a remedy for the problem.