Lower tax rate for Hudson residents in revised 2017 budget
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
Hudson residential tax rates lowered but other costs increase in revised 2017 budget as presented by Councillor Ron Goldenberg (left).
The revised 2017 Town of Hudson budget predicted an increase of 1.66 per cent over the rates for 2016. Clerical errors discovered in the original 2017 budget presented Wednesday, December 21, 2016, resulted in what was described as an “unacceptable” increase of approximately 5 per cent over the previous year making the revision necessary. Pro-Mayor Deborah Woodhead chaired the meeting in the place of Mayor Ed Prévost.
The revised budget was presented in a special meeting preceding the regular monthly council meeting held Monday, February 6. “The major changes are in the affectations category that contains capital expenditure,” said Councillor Ron Goldenberg. “What we have done is move capital expenditures from the general fund to long term debt.”
Residential garbage collection is pegged at $267.60 per household, a sizeable increase over the 2016 rate of $195. Properties that have access to town water and sewage services will also see increases in those rates. Goldenberg pointed out that water rates were increased due to more maintenance and service.
Legal fees 2017
During question period, resident Bill Nash pointed out that the town has actual costs for 2016 but was using the 2016 Budget as a comparison to the 2017 Budget. Goldenberg explained that this is common practice for municipalities.
“They can’t be released. They are not audited yet,” replied Goldenberg. Legal costs of $150,000 for 2017 are included in the budget according to Goldenberg. Resident Bill Driver asked for clarification on the outstanding legal files. Director General Jean-Pierre Roy replied that there are currently 10 legal dossiers before the courts.
Resident Helen Kurgansky asked for a breakdown of the items in the $2,478,430 General Administration expenses budgeted for 2017. Goldenberg responded that salaries accounted for approximately one third of the total budget and are included in the expenses of each department. He listed some of the major items such as salaries for the Director General, Treasurer, the Town Clerk’s department, fringe benefits, legal fees, and general insurance.
Toilets and taxes
Resident Véronique Fischer asked council why local businesses with more than one restroom were being taxed at a higher rate than a commercial establishment with one facility. She also pointed out that this was different from the 2017 budget presented in December 2016. Pro-Mayor Deborah Woodhead responded that the town is attempting to encourage small businesses in the town and that it was included in the earlier budget but not itemized as such.
Resident Jim McDermott raised concerns about water consumption, metering, and community patrol. Goldenberg responded that municipal wells are at peak capacity and that water usage is documented. He hazarded a guess that community patrol costs had been reduced by about 50 per cent.
The discussion of the details of the budget ended with Goldenberg stating that they would be published on the town’s web site if there were no legal barriers to doing so.