The meeting started off with Bob Rasner, president of the HDC board, presenting a study that he and HDC executive director Branda Maholtz had done to provide factual evidence that "Hudson's economy is heavily dependent on visitors." The entire study can be found here, but some of the more salient facts are these. In 2019, visitors staying overnight in Hudson paid $346,193 in lodging tax and $692,386 in sales tax. As the study points out: "Before they dined or shopped they paid over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in taxes." The study also provides these statistics:
In 2019 there were 492 rooms available each night in Hudson. Each of those rooms brings a minimum of $32,648 visitor spending to the city each year. Every room contributes $703.64 in lodging taxes. Every room contributes $10,438 in restaurant charges. Every room contributes $2,280 in sales taxes.The study also pointed out that in three significant revenue lines--lodging tax, sales tax, and parking fees--the City is falling significantly behind last year and what was budgeted for this year.
- Lodging Tax--in 2019, the City budgeted $280,000 and took in $346,193; in 2020, the City budgeted $340,000 and in the first half of the year has taken in $24,705.
- Sales Tax--in 2019, the City budgeted $1,700,000 and took in $1,791,922; in 2020, the City budgeted $1,900,000 and in the first half of the year has taken in $419,099.
- Parking Fees--in 2019, the City budgeted $315,000 and took in 346,864; in 2020, the City budgeted $350,000 and in the first half of the year has taken in $94,829.
In talking about the purpose of the law, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) spoke of the large number of houses that are being converted to STRs and the need for workforce housing and claimed that "STRs contribute to the increase in rent." Responding to that, Rasner asked: "Does the [Legal Committee] have any factual evidence that this legislation will have any effect on affordable housing?" Rosenthal did not have a clear answer to that.
Interestingly, Rosenthal, who chairs the committee that drafted the legislation, seemed to want to distance himself from the current draft. At one point, he said he wanted a "simple law," with a "simple residency requirement." He also expressed the opinion that the second draft--the one now being considered--"dives too far." One was reminded that when Mayor Rick Rector vetoed a nine-month moratorium on new STRs in December 2019, he pointed out that the Legal Committee had already been working for more than a year on legislation and during that time "there could have been common sense legislation such as 'owner occupied' regulation put into place."
Rosenthal maintained that the draft "is not necessarily the one that will be passed next month." When Monica Byrne observed that what he was saying was inconsistent with the draft legislation, Rosenthal said he had decided to "put this out to get input" to arrive at "sensible legislation." He also reported he had gotten responses from people who "totally support the concept."
At the end of the meeting, Rasner commented on how respectful the group had been in its discussion, which was true, but he obviously wasn't monitoring the chat. When the new owner of two buildings that were formerly part of the Inn at Ca' Mea remarked, "Taking away beds, we will strangle the city's economy," Dylan Weidman retorted in the chat, "Y'all wealthy bastards are strangling our community."
The link to the recording of the Zoom meeting can be found here.
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