Hudson City Council budget talks conclude

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- There were no surprises as Council finished its budget talks Dec. 11 in preparation for an expected vote Dec. 19.

Residents will see several projects in 2013, based on the proposed allocations for the year. The city plans to maintain 152 full-time employees but several will work in multiple departments.

The city plans to add LED streetlights to the state Route 91 corridor in the southern part of town at a cost of $650,000. The city downsized the project from $1 million by reducing the number of poles from 98 to 68 and concentrating on lights between Georgetown and Terex roads. The city will phase in the lighting from Norton Road to Georgetown Road or do it in-house by Hudson Public Power.

The city will also be busy cutting down ash trees on city property in 2013.

The emerald ash borer has killed the ash trees in the city, about 10 percent of the total tree population.

The city has budgeted $52,000 in 2013 to cut down the dead trees on its property.

The city also plans to build a new stairwell on the north side of the downtown parking deck at a cost of $125,000. The original stairwell was built too close to the free-moving deck and is damaged from collisions. The stairwell will be built farther away to allow more movement in the joints where it connects to the deck.

Planned storm water projects include a culvert at the Norfolk and Southern Railroad for $350,000 and the design and right-of-way for the Brandywine Creek Bridge and Channel for $140,000.

Council member Dan Williams questioned replacing the leaky salt dome roof and paving the Owen Brown parking lot because of a study about future development in the area. But any plans to move the salt dome could take years, he conceded. The city said it would review both projects to determine if either one could be postponed.

Hudson resident S. David Worhatch, former chairman of the board of trustees for the Cable 9 Consortium, suggested the city consider joining the Cable 9 family instead of operating Hudson Cable TV. He said Hudson's aggregate cable television franchise fee revenues have declined by 23 percent since it parted ways with Cable 9 around 1995.

The city prefers HCTV because, unlike Cable 9, it offers three cable channels for Hudson, while Cable 9 only has one channel serving seven communities, according to City Communications Manager Jody Roberts.

"We also provide more local programming, live streaming and on-demand archiving of government meetings, video on demand and other services to the community that are not part of the Cable 9 programming package," Roberts said.

If the city rejoined Cable 9, it would be subsidizing the cable programming of the other seven communities, Roberts said.

Worhatch also questioned why the city's workforce has grown so much since the merger of the Village of Hudson and Hudson Township in 1993, when he says officials promised smaller and cheaper government.

He said the city workforce has increased at an average rate of 10.25 percent every year for 19 years, and total compensation has doubled per employee at a time when inflation rates have averaged less than 4 percent per year.

Comparing today's staffing and services with 20 years ago is unrealistic, Roberts said.

"We are focused on providing the quality services that our citizens are expecting today, in the most efficient, cost-effective means possible," she said. "We continue to look for opportunities to find economies, be it through staffing or opportunities to partner with other communities."

She said the city's budgets have been "very conservative" in recent years.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

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