The new year marks our
20th since the merger of Hudson Village and Hudson Township. The "promise" of our Merger Commission in 1993 was that a combined local government would eliminate duplication of services. Their report supporting the merger plan concluded, with limited exceptions, that the needs of the city after merger could be met "without increasing head count."
I compared the commission's 1993 conclusions with the city's 2013 budget.
The combined 1994 workforce of 78 full-time employees has soared to 152 today. What's worse, the average fully-loaded compensation package for a full-time city worker is $99,796 today, more than double the $42,068 pre-merger average. Even in real terms, average annual compensation increases for city workers exceeded inflation by nearly 100 percent over the last 19 years.
In short, there are twice as many workers today and we pay them, in the aggregate, five times as much as the 78 workers were paid when merger took effect.
There's a growing sense about town that Hudson's roads today aren't up to the standards we expect. Based on my observations during City Council's recent budget workshops, our officials sense it, too.
Those workshops plainly reveal that resource allocation is the issue. The 2013 budget overall projects spending $1.12 million more than we plan on taking in, but the line items for road maintenance still aren't growing to meet all identified needs. Council members know that the more they postpone road maintenance expenses, the more it will wind up costing when today's deferred road repair jobs turn into tomorrow's more costly road reconstruction projects.
The largest line item in our budget is for employee compensation and benefits.
I believe that City Council, therefore, must now decide whether we should fund more road repairs through aggressive consolidation of city jobs and reductions in workers' pay.
S. David Worhatch, Hudson