Everyone was thrilled when the City of Hudson was awarded a $1 million anti-displacement grant. Just a few days ago, Council president Tom DePietro was speculating that some of that $1 million might be used to give the mayor's aide a $5,000 a year raise because he spends some of his time working on anti-displacement issues.
Yesterday, at the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA) budget workshop, Michelle Tullo, the housing justice director who was hired with funds from the grant, told the BEA that Enterprise, the funding source for the grant, "doesn't want to give us funds unless we are committed to the future." Of the $1 million, $400,000 has been received, and the remaining $600,000 has been allocated as "seed money" for a housing trust fund. To show its commitment, Tullo was requesting about $200,000 from the City: 10 percent of the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds and 50 percent of the lodging tax revenue.
City treasurer Heather Campbell asked about the per capita income in the cities Tullo was using as comparables to justify her ask. She also wanted to know if any of those cities consistently ran a deficit, with its expenditures exceeding its revenues. DePietro pointed out that the housing trust fund program in Burlington, Vermont, was created in the 1980s by Bernie Sanders, and commented, "The key was it would not break the bank."
Tullo reiterated that the $600,000 in seed money would not be released until the City shows a commitment and argued, "Grants are not enough to provide reliable, consistent funding."
The discussion ended with Johnson saying, "Let's come back to this in the next round."
Also yesterday, Alderman Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), who chairs the Tourism Board, presented that entity's budget request, which since Monday had increased by $30,000 to $160,000: $100,000 for "Heritage Programs" and $60,000 for "Growth Initiatives." In presenting the budget, Wallace talked about creating "an environment that is attractive to visitors" and lets them "see under the hood of what makes Hudson special."
During the discussion, DePietro opined, "The Tourism Board has a better future as a 501(c)3 with a contribution from the City." Johnson declared himself agreeable to committing to funds for the Heritage Programs but did not want to commit funding to Growth Initiatives. It was suggested there might be a quarterly application process for Growth Initiatives. Johnson also stated, "We have no commitment to doing seasonal usage in the future."
Campbell expressed concern about the two new requests for funding, reminding her colleagues on the BEA that the City has for the past several years run a deficit: its expenditures are greater than its revenues.
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