Hudson’s Strategic Plan officially unveiled
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost and council members fielded questions on a variety of topics after unveiling the new strategic plan Saturday, September 19.
Hudson’s long-awaited strategic plan was presented to a well-attended assembly of citizens at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Center Saturday, September 19. The overview of the plan handed out at the presentation, Our Town, Our Future, outlines the nine guiding principles of the forward–looking strategy ranging from maintaining the charming character, celebrating heritage, arts and culture, focus on balanced population growth, develop an accessible and connected waterfront, encourage micro-organic farming, and developing and maintaining healthy businesses in the core of the town.
“It’s a great framework and a great job,” said resident Keith Heller after the presentation. “It’s easy to be critical but now we have something to discuss.” Heller also said Mayor Ed Prévost’s promise to continue the process of consulting residents is a positive point.
“I think it’s good to dream big and this is certainly dreaming big,” said former Interim Mayor Diane Piacente, noting there are many issues that need to be explored in detail contained in the nine guiding principles.
Financial responsibility coupled with a realistic conservative financial plan is at the heart of the strategy. “We need this to be able to go forward,” said recently hired Director General Jean-Pierre Roy after the meeting, pointing out the entire administrative team was in attendance. In terms of finances, the plan states there is no intention to increase residential property taxes so that property taxes will only change in direct relation to the change in the value of a home. The impact on Hudson households is estimated at an average rate of increase of 1.2 per cent per year from 2014 to 2020.
Going forward, the business tax rate will remain where it is except where there are changes in the rental value or square footage occupied by a business.
The real-estate assets of the town will be evaluated at market value when being assessed for potential contribution to strategic projects. The plan also proposes to improve the revenue/cost annual change ratio from an average of -3.0 over the last five years where expenses grew three times faster than income to +1.5 by 2020.
Proposed spending that will peak at $900,000 per year in 2017 will be off-set by growth, subsidies and strategic project revenues. The goal is to generate 30 to 40 per cent more business estimated at $8 million per year in additional revenues to local businesses.
Arts and culture play a major role in the strategic plan. It proposes to build an arts and culture center, possibly on the waterfront, in conjunction with an arts-study program. Resident Lynda Clouette-Mackay, director general of the Hudson Music Festival, took Mayor Prévost to task for not consulting directly with professional artists and local artist organizations and for not approving the proposed re-purposing of the former fire station as a local center for arts activities. The mayor did not respond directly but commented after the presentation that the subject of the former fire station had been decided based upon the prohibitive cost of bringing it up to standard for that type of use.
“A detailed version of the plan will be available on the town web site,” said Prévost at the end of the presentation, before thanking everyone for their interest and participation.