HUDSON -- Not so fast. Hudson will remain in the county's block grant program after all.
On July 11, Council brought back legislation -- which it had passed June 20 with a 4 to 3 vote -- to leave the Summit County's Community Development Block Grant program. This time, they voted 6 to 1 to remain part of the program with Council member Alex Kelemen as the only vote to leave the program. Kelemen had originally introduced the legislation to leave the program (Hudson has been a member since June 1993).
The grant program benefits seniors, people with disabilities as well as low/medium income individuals. Businesses that create jobs for low/medium income employees also qualify for grants. Grants include infrastructure improvements, home repairs, economic development, demolition of blighted structures, assisting development for disabilities or physical care needs; veterans; educational programs; senior recreation or education; and homeless shelter programs.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides the funding based on the populations of communities participating in the county. Hudson qualifies for $57,000.
Council member Dan Williams July 11 requested a motion, which was seconded, to reconsider the vote on the resolution canceling participation in the Block Grant program. Mayor David Basil explained since it was the first meeting following the passage of the legislation, a motion for reconsideration was appropriate.
The official notice that Hudson will continue to participate in the program is scheduled to be sent July 21 to Summit County.
The four Council members who voted last month to leave the grant program were Williams, William Wooldredge, Dennis Hanink and Kelemen.
"The HUD representatives did a horrible job presenting this," Williams said. "They gave different answers from last time ."
Summit County has worked with Hudson on holding the lease to the YDC property so the city could apply for grants money after buying the property in 2009 for $6.9 million. It subsequently received $2.5 million in grants. Williams also mentioned the city transferring the Hudson sanitary sewer system to the Summit County Department of Environmental Services in 2016 to keep costs lower for customers. There are a lot of reasons to cooperate with the county, Williams said.
"I'm going to support not dropping out for a number of reasons," Williams said. "Mr. Kelemen brought up some good points: the risk and rewards of what might happen with the amount of families who might be helped is questionable, but the overriding consideration is our relationship in being part of Summit County."
Kelemen said June 20 that Summit County considered "local ordinances for stormwater systems, sidewalks, and landscaping that often add unnecessary costs to affordable housing development projects" as "barriers to affordable housing" and the county could override local zoning rules that require them. Council President Hal DeSaussure said June 20 HUD has never overridden local zoning.
Williams said he was frustrated only 10 people in five years were helped by the program and wanted a system developed for those who need the help, to be able to apply and receive it.
"In the Hudson School District 4.5 percent of the students qualify for student lunch programs so there are people in Hudson who could benefit from this program," Williams said.
Wooldredge said he didn't care for how the Block Grant program operates but after hearing from other Council members, he changed his mind.
"There are some people in Hudson and Summit County who will benefit from this," Wooldredge said. "I am persuaded by the fact that we are part of a larger community -- Summit County -- and [I] support that Summit County relationship."
Hanink said he was conflicted by the legislation.
"Whether in or out, it won't make a material difference to the county," Hanink said about the $57,000 portion allocated to Hudson compared to the $900,000 Block Grant budget for the county.
"I'm still concerned that it's not clear if we had any participation in the plan the county uses to distribute the funds," Hanink said. "The cynic in me says this whole process of government is the golden rule -- whoever has the gold, rules. We are rushing to have our place at the trough, which is one we should create locally anyway."
Hanink said the city should make some effort to educate residents about the program. He also wanted the city staff to notify Council in advance when this agreement and others are due for consideration.
Kelemen said he was waiting to hear something new from Council members.
"I heard relationships mentioned and that's encouraging, but I don't think the same consideration is given to members of Council," Kelemen said. "I was disappointed in how it occurred over the break. We've discussed this to death, and you brought it back. It sends a message to the city we are capricious."
Mayor David Basil disagreed with Kelemen.
"I think characterizing this as a capricious decision is unfortunate, unwarranted and untrue," Basil said.
Weisnstein said he was thankful for the reconsideration.
"I'm hopeful through this process, more Hudsonites will become aware of the Block Grant program and recognize it as a possible resource for them," Weinstein said.