If you don't have a seat at the table, you are on the menu
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
It's a common political saying because it's true. What's on the menu today? Our tax dollars.
I would like to cover two money related items we should all be aware of.
1: Phase II Part A was approved last night by council. Agree or disagree with Phase II, and there has been a lot of community discourse over this issue, something will go there. Exactly how dense that something tends to be a bigger debate and I suspect that debate is not over. To be on the record, I would like to see fewer homes than the 82 approved by the planning commission. Add to that the 20 flats that remain to be approved, we are at 102. I have bigger issues with the commercial development which is nearly 50% more than I would accept.
When discussing this development I keep hearing "we are partners" or "joint development." I hope that means we assist in making it happen, and Testa and his partners pay us for the land and infrastructure costs to make that happen. Hudson is not in the habit of underwriting the cost of individual housing, or lining a developer's pockets with tax payer money. Testa is not going to develop Phase II Part A residential himself. He has said he is selling that land to a sub. We don't know what he is willing to pay us for that property. But we know we will be about $10 million in at the end of the day. We don't know what he is selling the property to his sub for. But we have heard many times that it's a partnership and we need to have some skin in the game. That is taxpayer skin. SO either we are going to fund the cost of housing, or we are going to fund Testa profits. Agree or disagree with Phase II, we should know what the terms are. We don't. We approved a plan and have not told Hudson residents what the terms might look like. Councilman DeSaussure said that would be putting the cart in front of the horse. I disagree. Testa knows exactly what his costs will be and margins in this deal and likely has a pretty clear idea of what he needs Hudson to put into this deal to make it worth his while. Why is transparency so hard? When it concerns our taxes, we deserve it.
2: Our city is promoting their road spending plan. Take a look here. They are promoting it because they need to borrow money. I hope council understands we are above 10% debt to general fund revenue as we now stand and predict to be over 12.7% by next year thanks to spending and bad budgets. Most people are not aware of this but anything between 12%-15% of debt to general fund revenue level is considered a financial "cautionary outlook". Once we cross 15% it is considered "critical". This $5 million we plan on borrowing is not included in that outlook. We will probably hit 15% by 2020. Thanks guys.
Why were our roads neglected for so long? In 2007 we spent millions on YDC property and have done nothing with it. We have sunk millions on Velocity Broadband. Did you know a recent Crain's article said it was "self-funded"? I call it Taxpayer funded. We paid for it, thank you. Let's just get that straight. We are millions over budget on a new town hall. And our budget for road maintenance is flat. Over the next 5 years we show 2.3 million for our roads. This article says they plan on spending between 2.1 to 3.1 million. It is budgeted for 2.3 million. Why is honesty so hard for some people!
The point is, if we paid more attention to our spending, we would not need to borrow more money to repair roads. We would have built that increased expense into our budget over time in the same way we budget for increased city salaries, increases in salt costs to handle winter road salting, etc.