Sunday Nov 22 2020 Update
My wife is first generation American, from German and Lithuanian parents, which means our days normally start with a POD (Plan of the Day) discussion. Lisa is ‘fleisig’ (diligent) so days of rest are few and far between. Today, I have been blessed with one of those rare days.
I wanted to catch up on 3 topics. Connectivity, Five-Year Plan, and books I have been reading recently.
You will see in the link below that City Council has updated the connectivity plan.
We had several meetings during the summer and fall to bring the town together and update this plan in a way that it could realistically be developed. Many of us took a bit of heat in tackling this project… for different reasons. Some felt the plan was fine as is. Others had personally worked on it and wanted to make sure the city received some real connectivity benefit. And there was this perception that some of us did not want to invest in connectivity. It was on my rack-cards long ago. I believe in this kind of infrastructure investment for our residents, both admitted when I ran for office and remain committed to it now.
We started this new plan because under previous council and connectivity plans the city had previously attempted 4 segments, every one of which failed to move forward for various reasons. We did not want to toss out years of work, nor did we want to scrap connectivity. We wanted to make sure it happened in a way everyone could get behind.
I urge you to look through the plan. To give you a quick highlight, when you look at the map you will see solid blue lines that represent existing sidewalks.
There are doted blue line areas that represent Funded Connections that will almost absolutely occur unless something comes up to block them. One segment appears to be cut short, which is Lake Forest Drive between Boston Mills and Atterbury. The dot’s were just cut short. The length of Lake Forest Drive should be dotted to signify the funded and planned status.
Other areas are Orange and referred to as Priority Connections… connections we want funded and developed. Lots of Orange – and personally very happy to see orange in North West Hudson that would allow my ‘current’ area of town to feel connected to the rest. Now if we could only get a grade separation at Boston Mills Rail… one issue at a time I guess.
This will tie into item number 2 – the five year plan. We looked at the money required to handle ALL of these connections. The costs of each are in the below link
The five-year plan was amended to include these costs, in cash from the general fund where required, in cash from Parks fund where available, and about 9 million remaining. Council has largely agreed (though not yet voted) to use debt to make the entire plan happen.
As that relates to the five-year plan, we wanted to make sure we stayed at or near a 40% carry-over and kept debt below 10% of our expense levels. When I took office last year we were working with a 5 year plan that showed a 30% carry-over for 2021 and 34% for 2022, both with slightly higher than 10% Debt Percentage to General Fund Revenues and that did not include a massive connectivity plan like we now see.
We reviewed a 7 year projection after overlaying the debt repayments in 2026 forward and we have the following projections: 2021 through 2025 40% carry over (plus or minus less than 1%). 2026 and 2027 in the 46 to 51% range (that’s a ways out… we can use that for other projects as the years get closer). Also a key metric is that the debt load to general fund balance would be UNDER 10% through 2023, be reduced to 4-5% in 2024 and 2025, and peak at 7.71% there after with the new debt load.
Obviously, I am in favor of this revised 5 year plan – and the connectivity plan updates. If you want to stick strictly to policy, just end it here. But because Council passed a proclamation to further Diversity Equity and Inclusion in our community, I wanted to let you know what I have been reading.
The last item is several books I have read recently. With the DEI taskforce in Hudson I have tried to learn as much as I could about the topic. I started with the recommended reading, White Fragility, which I have mentioned before I found problematic – which is not to say it has no value. It had some value to me, but I will stick with to my previous “problematic” statement on it. If you do read it, you will probably see what I mean. I am looking forward to their next recommendation. I read Dear Martin next. It’s a really good book. Sad of course, but provides some first person accounts on the life experiences of some minorities that were truly unjust. I would recommend it myself in the blend of reading on the topic of diversity.
In this journey I discovered a young man named Coleman Hughes (https://colemanhughes.org) . Coleman Hughes is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor at City Journal, where his writing focuses on race, public policy, and applied ethics. Coleman’s writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Quillette, The City Journal and The Spectator. He has a series of podcasts on many topics (morality, the meaning of life, prison conditions, etc). I was struck by an interview he has with Glenn Loury called “The Problem with Race”. It is on youtube located here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGLUk48u5l0
Hughes and Loury discuss White Fragility, the topic of racism and how it is too often intertwined with politics, the 1619 Project by The New York Times, and they brought up a couple of other books on the topic. I read The 1619 Project: A Critique, by Phillip W. Magness, which is a series of essays that accurately point out problems with the 1619 Project. A couple days ago I received my copy of 1620 by Peter W. Wood. This book was recommended by Glenn Loury. I am a few dozen pages in. I’m sure I will finish it in a day or two. It is gripping. This came after I finished How to Think by Alan Jacobs (A survival guide for a world at odds). Next on my list is The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt (How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure). For those who know me well enough I interrupt more serious books with Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner, MiniFarming, and Aquaponic Design books.
Questions or concerns just let me know.