Earlier today, Mayor Kamal Johnson issued this press release:
The City of Hudson Announces
$1.6 million-dollar additional funds
The City of Hudson has a $2.5 million-dollar unassigned fund balance, according to April report from the City Treasurer. That's $1.6 million more than $900,000 estimate the Treasurer gave in the prior month.
SAVING THROUGH SPENDING DECREASE
Significant savings were realized through spending decreases. Actual expenses were $1.0 million lower than budget, and significantly below forecast. In August of 2020 the Mayor asked all departments to create a spending reduction plan and issued an executive order that all expenditures $1000 or over had to be approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA). This led to savings beyond what the Treasurer's office anticipated.
Furthermore, the City's sales tax revenue was greater than the April 12 report anticipated. By approximately $150 thousand. Studies have shown that cash assistance to people with low and moderate incomes stimulates the economy because people spend the money locally and immediately on essential services or use it to start small businesses. State and federal programs like increased unemployment assistance and stimulus checks added more money to the economy. Furthermore, the city started a universal basic income pilot program.
"Fourth quarter sales tax was the second highest on record, and is a good indicator of overall economic health," says City Treasurer Heather Campbell.
The city also participated and led several programs to support businesses. This included the Shared Streets program, The Berkshire Continuity Fund, the Galvan MWBE [Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises] Fund, and Tourism Board grants.
Prioritizing public health is also a key to a functioning economy. The city took consistent measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus and reduce its impacts on our community. This includes the Hudson Safe campaign and the distribution of essential supplies.
While the pandemic has reduced tourism and hospitality economy, Hudson received more funds in lodging tax than previously anticipated. Ending the year strong with over $220 thousand in lodging tax revenue. "It was extremely encouraging to see lodging tax rebound, since it also bodes well for local businesses," says Campbell.
In addition, the previous report had a miscalculation where some allocations were counted twice, so that it appeared that less money was available than there really was.
Throughout the pandemic, the city sought to reduce expenses but prioritized our employees.
"Our employees provide essential services that our residents, businesses, and visitors need," says Mayor Kamal Johnson. "Every department contributes to our city's safety and prosperity. During the pandemic, we needed our employees more than ever."
NO PROPERTY TAX INCREASE
Due to the financial burdens put on citizens in previous years the city did not raise property taxes.
"Given the fiscal difficulties residents struggled with this past year, we avoided adding to their financial burden," says Common Council President Tom DePietro.
FEDERAL AND STATE RELIEF
"The adjusted financials do not include any of our Federal or State Relief funds, the relief funds will make it possible to continue important projects and initiatives."
The city anticipates additional Federal relief from the American Rescue Act of $667 thousand, payable over the next two years.
The news from the mayor's office prompted Michael Hofmann, who is challenging Heather Campbell to become city treasurer, to issue his own press release, which criticizes Campbell for double-counting assigned funds, an error she discovered while working on mandated reporting for New York State. The press release asserts, "An inaccuracy of this scale is a massive breach in public trust." Hofmann is quoted in the press release as saying, "Ms. Campbell has been quoting a wildly off-base number for our unassigned fund balance for months. That has real ramifications for our city. It has affected the way issues are considered and problems are solved." Hofmann also claims, "Ms. Campbell's original prediction was even weaponized among some circles as 'evidence' of mismanagement by other city officials and employees." The press release ends with an appeal from Hofmann, who seeks to be the city treasurer, "We need to use this chance to transform our treasury into an active participant in the health, equity, vibrancy, and long-term success of our community."