Thursday, October 7, 2021

Great Expectations

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.

The members of the BEA--mayor, Council president, treasurer--seemed a little surprised by the request. DePietro said he was "curious how we commit funds before we know how it will be used." Tullo told him, "We know the parameters; we just don't know specifics." Mayor Kamal Johnson said the City could pay the 25 percent of the staff salaries not covered by the grant, which amounts to $22,000. 

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.


  1. What malarkey. Enterprise wants to know that the city of Hudson is "committed to the future?" What the bloody hell does that mean in context? This city has been here over 300 years and as such has earned a reputation as something of a permanent encampment of Americans and resident visitors where people live, work, get schooled, breed, die, etc.

    This is just another attempt by some group or person with an agenda that has nothing to do with Hudson itself; we are seen as a means to an end and nothing more. In this case, a source of money. Which is, as my grandmother would say, fucking laughable.

    Oh, and the mayor's antipathy towards growth is just perplexing unless one determines he has no interest in the future of Hudson.

    Is it too late to suggest a write-in campaign for Heather Campbell for mayor?

    1. I should have been clearer. The statement about commitment referred specifically to the future of the housing trust fund, which needs a regular and continuing influx of money.

    2. So the City is expected to contribute 5% of its budget on an annual basis? Really, whose interests are being served by this fiscal irresponsibility? Is it that both the mayor and Tom can't comprehend what Heather is saying? Or do they simply not care about the people of Hudson? The last time I checked, trust funds were set up by rich folks . . . not broke cities.

    3. She would make a great mayor . But in this cycle, we really need her as treasurer. Day in and day out, she does a great job
      Margaret Morris

  2. My head hurts reading this.

    Also, the best thing to do would be to give the money directly to people in need through small grants applied for in emergency and given to landlords to cover rent for a tenant in dire need. If you want to give raises to non-grant funded staff, make a case for it and pay them from the general budget.

    Good grief

    1. Give the money to landlords? Not a great idea. Better would be to set up a system to give the money for use as downpayments towards purchase of properties to be used as residences for low to moderate income residents. This way the money would create equity for families, rather than go down the drain as rents. Rent assistance is a short term fix that in the long run does nothing.

    2. Giving the assistance directly to the landlord to cover a renter underwater is exactly how the state is doing it with the ERAP. Your system sounds good to me as well. My main point is that the money should be directly distributed to citizens, rather than raises for staff, consultants, and other patronage waste.

  3. There are specific requirements that come with grant funding. Be prepared!

  4. Sorry if this is not direectly on topic.

    We are already paying the "Asst. Mayor" that replaced the last appointed Asst. Mayor by the Mayor that was simultaneously the County Supervisor for his Ward, directly from our taxes.
    This replacement Asst. Mayor, we are also paying directly from our taxes.
    Now they want to pay him more money for this side job.
    So deduct that from what we are paying him as Asst. Mayor, if that takes up so much of his time.
    I also have a headache.

    This Asst. Mayor primaried our excellent Treasurer on the Democratic ticket, which means he is registered as a Democrat. So he is a Democrat in name only, as he is on the ballot for Treasurer AGAIN on the Working Families Party in Nov.

    Please. I beg of any taxpayer or voting citizen of Hudson to please make sure Heather Campbell remains our City Treasurer. This is serious.

    This current Asst. Mayor, has a degree in Musical Theater and what... Voice or the like?
    I worked in theater in Manhattan for many years on the technical/design side. There is no one I could think of off hand that would be less qualified to be City Treasurer than someone with a degree in Musical Theater as their selling point, except someone who is also another Galvan shill.

    However, not to diss Theater totally, I do know some serious B'way producers that could help Ms.Campbell and taxpayers, clean up this mess we have at City Hall.

    1. Heather Campbell is a top notch treasurer, a wonderful asset to the Hudson community, and by far the most qualified citywide elected official.

      While she would make an excellent mayor, she would make an even better city manager. Hopefully, given the performance of so many elected officials in the past couple of years and the high level of dissatisfaction within the community, there will be real momentum to make changes to the City Charter.

  5. None of our previous mayor’s required a mayor’s assistant, or a mayor’s aide, why does this one?

    1. Every mayor since Ken Cranna (2000-2001) has had a mayor's aide. Cranna created the position because back then the role of mayor was considered a part-time position (and was compensated accordingly), and Cranna, who was an attorney, wanted someone to answer the phone when he was not in the office.

  6. The Hudson Development Corporation is an LDC focused on workforce development well-positioned to drive growth in the Tourism sector. The Hudson Business Coalition is managed by local businesses with a deep bench of talent in tourism and hospitality. The yahoos on the Tourism Board have given away nearly half a million dollars of taxpayer money with little to show for it, and a track record of nepotism and poor management of projects. Why on Earth should the City fund them as a 501(c)3 and give them taxpayer money? Oh, right, so Tom's pork barrel buffet can remove a layer of transparency from their doings.

    The Tourism Board has to go.