At the Finance Committee meeting, which preceded the regular Common Council meeting last night, Deborah Kinney, speaking for the Hudson Property Owners Coalition (HPOC), asked Treasurer Eileen Halloran and Common Council President Don Moore, who with Mayor Scalera make up the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, and the members of the Common Council who sit on the Finance Committee, to reduce the 2011 city budget, warning that property taxes could be intolerable for property owners who have seen their assessments double in 2010. Most of the details of the meeting are reported in this morning's Register-Star: "HPOC leader: Lower ’11 taxes." Not mentioned in Lindsay Suchow's account were the comments of an East Allen Street homeowner who told the committee that his school taxes had increased 160 percent in spite of the fact that the mil rate for school taxes had gone down 3 percent. "Nobody is trusting anything that is going on," he told the committee. "People are trying to dump their properties in anticipation of what is going to happen."
The draft 2011 city budget will be presented to the Common Council on November 10. After the budget is delivered to the Council, a public hearing will be scheduled. The Council must vote to approve by budget by November 30.
During the regular Common Council meeting, the Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to negotiate for the purchase of this building--25 Railroad Avenue, the current home of the Department of Social Services. It's possible that the city and the county may now be in competition for the building it once seemed nobody wanted. The mayor plans to relocate the police department and the city court to the building. The county, which has been leasing the building since it was constructed nineteen years, has authorized an appraisal of the building as part of the search for a future location for DSS. The county's lease on the building expires in June 2011.
When the meeting was opened to new business, Linda Mussmann, from the audience, asked for a progress report on efforts to correct "prison gerrymandering" in Hudson. In early August, the New York State legislature passed a measure requiring prisoners to be counted, for legislative districting purposes, in the communities where they lived before they were incarcerated instead of the communities where they reside as prisoners. In September, Mussmann came to the Legal Committee meeting to demand that the change, which would alter the weighted votes in the Common Council, be implemented immediately. She maintained that prisoners represent 35 percent of the population on which the weighted vote of the Third Ward aldermen is currently based. Removing the prison population from the equation would reduce the weight of the Third Ward votes and would also increase the votes of the other wards by some undetermined amount.
According to the city charter, the weighted vote is based on the U.S. Census, and it is recalculated every ten years when a new census is taken. When the 2010 census numbers are available, the weighted vote will be recalculated based on those numbers. Mussmann wants the weighted vote to be recalculated now, to eliminate the 600 prisoners who were counted in the 2000 census, and recalculated a second time when the 2010 census os finished. She bases her argument on fairness, but it's hard not to wonder if part of her motivation might be to diminish the voting power of two aldermen who seem disinclined to support the LWRP in its current form.