Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Council on the Budget

On Monday night, the Common Council held a special meeting to adopt the 2016 city budget. The resolution before them read:
RESOLVED, that the items set forth in the attached statement in the aggregate to the sum of $13,225,752 be and hereby adopted, and the same shall compose the January 1December 31, 2016 budget, and the amount of $4,879,753 shall be raised by the next annual tax levy in the City of Hudson for the purpose expressed pursuant to the provisions of the City Charter.
Typically, the meeting to adopt the budget, which must take place within twenty days after the budget is presented by the mayor, is pretty much pro forma, but that was not the case this time. Although the Common Council cannot add things to the budget, it can remove them, and Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) suggested that the money budgeted for parking meters in the 200 block of Warren Street be removed from the budget. Friedman argued that there were no municipal parking lots below Third Street and no off-street parking; therefore, residents and business owners had no option but to park on the street.

Alderman Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward) argued that "business owners welcome parking meters," claiming that there was "no room for patrons to park because people from other blocks park on the 200 block" where there are now no parking meters. 

Friedman, whose law practice is located in the 200 block, disagreed with her. "There is never a complaint about the lack of short-term parking in December [when parking is free on all blocks of Warren Street]," he asserted.

Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) said he was getting mixed messages from his constituents about meters on the 200 block. "Initially, I embraced meters," he said, "but now it is mixed." Rector asked how parking meters for the 200 block had gotten into the budget in the first place and was told it was a suggestion "from an alderman in the Second Ward." City treasurer Heather Campbell explained that the original suggestion was to install meters all the way from Front Street to Third Street, but the Board of Estimate and Apportionment agreed to meters on just one block.

Council president Don Moore suggested that the cost and benefit of the meters needed to be considered. "I'm not sure the revenue is great enough to justify the meters." Campbell, however, assured the Council that "revenues from meters and fines outweigh the expenses."

Friedman argued that a better source of revenue would be ticketing people for moving violations. "We nickel and dime our own residents," he complained, "instead of enforcing the law."

At some point it was suggested that the $50,000 to go to the Galvan Foundation for the senior center should also be removed from the budget. Friedman called the $100,000 exacted from the City by Galvan ($50,000 a year for two years) "wealthfare" and went on to say, "It makes perfect sense to me--pulling the meters and the $50,000 to Galvan." 

Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) called the money to Galvan "ransom" and told his colleagues, "You're selling your birthright." The latter comment provoked Alderman Bob "Doc" Donahue to tell Haddad, "Your birthright isn't Hudson, New York! That's for sure!"

In the end, the resolution put forward was simply to remove from the budget the $25,000 allocated for parking meters on the 200 block of Warren Street. Moore, Friedman, and Henry Haddad (Third Ward) voted yes to remove the budget item; Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward), Donahue, Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), Nick Haddad, Alexis Keith, Rector, and Stewart all voted no.  Abdus Miah (Second Ward) was absent from the meeting.

When the resolution to adopt the budget was voted on, all present voted in the affirmative except Friedman, who voted no.


  1. "Friedman argued that there were no municipal parking lots below Third Street and no off-street parking; therefore, residents and business owners had no option but to park on the street"

    The city should make use of the air space over the (all) existing municipal parking lots by adding more levels of paid parking, city dwellers could park in front of their residence for free.

  2. When the General Worth came down, local merchants suggested placing a parking lot there. Instead it was replaced with a hardware store with its own small car lot.

    When a city always spends more than it takes in, short term gains replace long term strategy.