Hudson’s economic future depends on property development
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Hudson resident Richard Grinnell reported his petition asking for a town-wide referendum on the purchase of the private property surrounding Sandy Beach has garnered significant support.
Hudson’s budget for 2017 will be presented at a special town council meeting scheduled for Wednesday, December 21, at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre at 7 p.m. followed by a public consultation concerning changes to planning, zoning, and subdivision by-laws for the Mayfair housing development project.
Mayor Ed Prévost made the announcement regarding the 2017 budget during his remarks at the town council meeting held Monday, December 5. “We realized we were hired to clean the swamp,” said Prévost as he gave a retrospective on the past three years of his and council’s leadership. “A lot has been done, but there is more to be done, unfortunately,” he said referring to a culture of entitlement he said needed to be curtailed. He noted that by year three there was a reduction in debt, tighter management controls, and a better revenue stream.
“This year is difficult to predict. It could be an epic year,” said Prévost. His comments that property evaluations had gone up raised some questions. It was Director General Jean-Pierre Roy who clarified the situation that they have decreased. In conjunction with a population level that remains relatively static and cost of services that continues to rise, the mayor said, “The only viable solution is to develop property. A lot of property development projects have been sidelined for 10 years or more.” He added cutting back expenses would not create a major increase in revenue.
Council adopted the first projects of three by-law modifications to accommodate the subdivision of 12 lots on Mayfair Street in the Hudson Valleys development. The proposed changes will permit the construction of semi-detached dwellings with certain conditions attached such as the maintenance of buffer zones and that changes be made to a dangerous curve on Mayfair Street.
The failure of the town to withhold Federal and Quebec payroll deductions at source during the period of time that Louise Léger-Villandré was DG was also part of the agenda. A voluntary disclosure of the error by the town to both levels of government resulted in payments by the town for its share of unpaid fees. The employees of the town were also assessed for unpaid income tax and the town is now attempting to assist them with the issuance of revised T-4 documents. “Some employees, not all, will have to pay more income tax between 2009 and 2012, maybe with penalties and interest,” said Roy adding, “It is not an agreeable situation. They are victims of Mme. Villandré, as was the town.” He clarified further, that once Villandré pleaded guilty to the charges against her, it was clear that the employees were not responsible for the deductions at source problem.
A public information meeting regarding the Sandy Beach project was approved for sometime in late February or early March 2017. Resident Richard Grinnell reported during the first question period that he has collected 700 signatures in support of a town-wide referendum on whether or not Hudson should purchase the privately owned property pertaining to the Sandy beach project. In his opinion, there is a definite interest in preserving the land.
The payment of $86,563.11 to Dunton Rainville S.E.N.C.R.L. for legal fees elicited chortles of laughter from members of the audience. Councillor Ron Goldenberg reported the total amount paid out in legal fees for 2016 has risen to $395,000. During question period, resident Véronique Fischer asked why the town had hired outside legal counsel for the repatriation of private roads when they already have a lawyer on staff. “Yes, I am a lawyer but because someone in this room made a complaint to the Ministry (Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire), we had to have outside counsel,” replied Roy. He added that cost was in the vicinity of $2000 with the result that the town discovered that for certain lots on private roads the 2014-2015 Eco Tax should not have been applied. Council approved a motion to retroactively abolish the tax for the lots in question.
Council formally approved Laura McCaffrey as the Arts, Culture and Communications Coordinator. The Mayor also welcomed Cassandra Comin Bergonzi as the new Town Clerk.