Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Common Council in September

The informal Common Council meeting this month, which took place on Monday, September 10, took a record-breaking (record-breaking for its brevity) nine minutes. The regular Council meeting, on Tuesday, September 19, was almost as short, adjourning after only fourteen minutes. In that time, a couple of things of interest were accomplished.

First, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a letter of agreement with GAR Associates, LLC, to delay the citywide revaluation. The reval has supposed to be happening right now with the goal of having the reassessments finalized by July 2018, but since Cheryl Kaszluga, the City assessor, resigned a few months ago, the work is being postponed "until the City has a new Assessor in place and the new Assessor is fully ramped up." The plan is to postpone the revaluation for one year, which would mean that the final revaluated tax roll would be completed by July 1, 2019, for the 2019-2020 tax year.

Also of interest, the Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a contract with Tighe & Bond to create the engineering drawings for the ramp to be constructed at Promenade Hill. Tighe & Bond submitted the lowest bid for the work, which was $30,951.  

The funding for the ramp has been an interesting journey. The City twice--in 2011 and 2015--applied for grant funding to make improvements to Promenade Hill, which would have included a ramp to provide universal access to the park and its views. Both efforts were unsuccessful. In 2014, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) insisted that $20,000 be written into the 2015 budget to install a temporary ramp if Hudson's 2015 grant efforts were unsuccessful. In the spring of 2016, when it seemed likely that Hudson's most historic park would be defaced by some kind of temporary ramp, purchased with the allocated $20,000, the Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund stepped in and hired Barbara Restaino to design a proper ramp. The design had been paid for, but building the ramp was going to cost $170,000, and the City only had $20,000 set aside for that purpose.

In the 2017 budget, the City wisely wrote in $100,000 for legal fees against the possibility of being sued over its arcane weighted voting system if the Fair & Equal referendum didn't pass. When the referendum did pass, and it was believed that $100,000 would not be needed for legal fees, Garriga insisted that the $100,000 be repurposed for the ramp. A resolution reallocating the $100,000 barely passed in the Council in December 2016. The vote was 1,019 aye, 914 nay; 1,011 affirmative votes are needed for a majority. (Ironically, in August 2017, the Council had to take $50,000 from the fund balance for legal fees relating to a different issue altogether.) 

By mid-summer 2017, $120,000 had been set aside for the ramp, but $50,000 was still lacking. Once again it was Garriga who brought up the subject of the ramp. On July, the Council passed a resolution requesting a progress report from the mayor about the ramp. That report was submitted prior to the August meeting, and at that meeting, the Council passed a resolution taking another $50,000 from the fund balance to pay for the ramp. 

With $170,000 now in place--none of it coming from grants, all of it coming from the City of Hudson budget and fund balance--work on the ramp is ready to begin. The first step is creating the engineering drawings. Now that fall has begun, the actual preparation of the site and construction of the ramp will probably not begin until spring.

1 comment:

  1. Ludicrous. The entire city, its sidewalks and City Hall itself, including the bathetic garbage bag machine, are in violation of the ADA. A person in a wheelchair can't even get to the proposed new ramp.