I attended the Nov. 14 City Council workshop session to take a firsthand look at Hudson’s five-year budget planning process.
I don’t think that it’s an understatement to say that the city is at a tipping point.
A projected $1.2 million deficit in the general fund must be closed at a time when our city manager and city engineer advocate $1.8 million a year for the next three years just to keep our streets in their current condition (i.e., no substantial improvement).
Tough decisions are in the offing.
We should support Council’s efforts as the future of our town is reshaped in the next few weeks. That requires citizen attention and participation. After all, one never knows where the next good idea may come from as long as one is willing to keep an open mind, hear everyone out, and not care who gets the credit.
Here are a few of my own observations based on the first draft of the proposed five-year plan.
Road reconstruction is far more costly than road maintenance. When streets are allowed to deteriorate, we only defer a bigger bill to pay in the future. The city engineer will work within whatever budget Council approves, but he knows that extra expense in the future can be avoided if we spend a little more now.
Choices abound. The current plan assumes over $250,000 in pay increases in 2013 with no reduction in the city’s staff of full-time workers, a $180,000 golf course subsidy, and $75,000 for a business “incubator” project that hasn’t produced much in two years. Saving on those items alone would cover the extra $500,000 the city manager wants for street maintenance in 2013.
Different resource allocations could be considered. What we need now, however, is all hands on deck.
S. David Worhatch, Hudson