Saturday, April 11, 2020

Highlights from Yesterday's Virtual Town Hall

If you missed the virtual town hall meeting when it was streaming live yesterday, you can still watch it here. Or you can read some of the highlights here.

In his opening comments, Mayor Kamal Johnson reported that there was no moratorium on rent and asked landlords to work with tenants.

Council president Tom DePietro offered assurance that the Council was still "busy and active." (Strangely, the calendar on the City of Hudson website for April does not show an informal meeting of the Council, which should take place on Monday, April 13.) DePietro made reference to the money from the lodging tax designated for the use of the Tourism Board, which now amounts to about $400,000, and reiterated that the City cannot give away money. (Some have suggested that the money should be used to establish a relief fund for Hudson businesses.) He expressed confidence in the Tourism Board and its ability to invest the funds. He reminded everyone that the new Tourism Board would be meeting this coming Friday, April 17.      

Mike Tucker, President and CEO of Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) reported that the Columbia County Business Continuity Fund established by CEDC and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation now has $160,000 and 80 applications. (The goal was to get $500,000 in the fund.) The funding is meant to help businesses in town and city centers pay employees and meet operating expenses. The deadline for applying is Wednesday, April 15. (Donations to the fund can be made at Applications for funding can be made at

P. J. Keeler, the Columbia County treasurer, predicted that every municipality in the county would lose 10 or 11 percent of its anticipated sales tax revenue because of the shut down. (The prediction seems to be based on the idea that the shutdown will be over and things will be back to normal in five or six weeks.) 

The participation of Keeler and Columbia County sheriff David Bartlett seemed curious. They hadn't been among the announced participants. If it was thought a budget overseer and a law enforcement officer should be part of the conversation, why not city treasurer Heather Campbell and Chief Ed Moore of the Hudson Police Department? Obviously, it seemed odd to someone else as well, because during the meeting someone texted DePietro to ask why there was no representative from the Hudson Police Department on the panel. Johnson said he didn't know that Bartlett would be on the panel. Bartlett said that the sheriff's office and the HPD were working closely together, that he and Chief Moore conversed every day, and that accidents and crime are down because everyone is staying home.

Among the questions that had been submitted prior to the virtual town hall meeting was one about imposing a freeze on short-term rentals. (On Thursday, Bob Rasner, who chairs the board of Hudson Development Corporation, made an appeal to the owners of short-term rental units to suspend renting rooms to visitors "to discourage any transmission of the Covid-19 virus.") The answer to the question offered during the virtual town hall meeting was that the decision to freeze short-term rentals would have to be made on the state level.

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