Hudson Voices: Looking at 20th anniversary of the merger of Hudson Township, City of Hudson Village

S. David Worhatch Published:

Congratulations to your reporter, Heidi Augustin, on a balanced report last month looking back on the merger of Hudson Township and the City of Hudson Village some 20 years ago. Three things struck me as I read the article and I thought I might share them with you and your readers.

First, the city (former village) did not "declare its independence" from the township in 1837, as reported by Ms. Augustin. Instead, it became -- and remained even through merger -- an incorporated municipality within the boundaries of the 25 square miles of Hudson Township. Residents of the former village paid township taxes and retained the right to vote for township officials. The Township Trustees were responsible for providing many services to village residents, e.g., EMS, fire protection, parks and recreation, maintenance of the Clock Tower and the Green, etc.

Second, Ms. Augustin referred to my "white paper" analyzing the aftermath of merger, but the biggest disappointments of merger that I cited in that document did not survive final editing of her report. Specifically, those disappointments included the fact that the promised efficiencies that supposedly were to come with eliminating overlapping local government services never materialized and that the rosy projections for tremendous cost savings instead have morphed into a payroll featuring twice as many local government employees now as we had 20 years ago being paid five times as much! This is precisely what our political action committee -- No Merger Now -- predicted in 1993 when we studied the dubious conclusions reached by the Merger Commission in its proposal for merging the two forms of local government.

Third, I cannot disagree with Mayor Currin more about what he claims to have been the 'main goal' of merger.

Curbing residential growth was not, as the Mayor claimed, the "main goal" of the merger ... and neither was "a desire to establish a plan for economic development." As a Township Trustee at the time of merger, I can assure you that we already had taken steps the year before merger to establish greater controls through the public's approval of my recommendation that we reorganize the township under certain "home rule" powers found in Chapter 504 of the Ohio Revised Code.

With that approval in place, my colleagues and I on the Hudson Township Board of Trustees then began exercising those powers to reign in the rampant residential growth the township had experienced in the '80s a full year or more before the Merger Commission's report was submitted to the voters for approval.

Instead, aside from achieving greater efficiencies in providing local government services (and therefore reducing pressure on raising taxes to meet expenses), the most important goals of merger were: (1) Requiring our own more demanding design standards for road construction, infrastructure improvements, and buildings instead of having to rely on county officials who were not as interested in the impact their decisions were having on those of us who called Hudson home and (2) eliminating any possibility that a neighboring municipality might try to annex part or all of the unincorporated 20-1/2 square miles of Hudson Township.

With county-only oversight, developers got away with meeting less rigorous standards that only put off higher maintenance costs for the rest of us eventually to absorb. So on that single issue, merger has been a success ... but the overall net cost to taxpayers of the former unincorporated 20-1/2 square miles of the township, in my judgment, has been much higher than the members of the Merger Commission promised when they sold their version of "One Hudson" to the voters.

And, that, is the "rest of the story."

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