Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m., the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA) will meet for the last time to agonize over the proposed 2021 budget for the City of Hudson. On Tuesday, at a special meeting at 5:00 p.m., Mayor Kamal Johnson will present the proposed budget to the Common Council.
Gossips has been following the BEA, made up of the mayor, the Common Council president, and the city treasurer, as they work through the process of balancing the city budget in the middle of a pandemic. Here are some hints about what we can expect to hear on Tuesday. The BEA wants all city employees to forgo annual raises in 2021. To achieve that, the mayor has been negotiating with the police union and the CSEA (Civil Service Employees Association). Johnson reported at the BEA meeting this past Friday that the police union "has been extremely helpful . . . CSEA not so much." The police union is reportedly agreeable to forgoing annual raises, the first uniform allowance payment of the year (there are two), and taking police cars home. Johnson expects to know on Monday if the CSEA will agree to forgoing raises in 2021.
In a further effort to cut the 2021 budget and the police force, police officers who retire will not be replaced. There is an expected retirement in the city clerk's office in April 2021, and that person will be replaced, for the remainder of 2021, by a part-time employee. The Youth Department, however, will add four full-time positions, a move that Youth Director Nick Zachos argues is "an overall saving" because it consolidates five or six part-time positions.
On Friday, city treasurer Heather Campbell reported that, with all the cuts to the budget the BEA had made, there was still a gap of $497,763 between anticipated revenue and expenses. It was agreed that, to avoid raising property taxes, the money would be taken out of the fund balance. It should be remembered that Campbell has been projecting a revenue shortfall of between $1.4 and $1.9 million for 2020, and that money will have to come out of the fund balance, which Campbell reported in September was $2,748,452. Council president Tom DePietro is confident that the fund balance can be replenished by the sale of City-owned property. On Friday, he also expressed optimism about future revenue. "A lot of good things are happening in the city that will increase our revenue," he said, mentioning specially the lodging tax revenue anticipated from the new hotel to be developed at 620 Union Street.
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