Vote on leasing guidelines for city-owned property postponed to Nov. 1

by Judy Stringer

Oct. 18 city council meeting

Hudson City Council agreed in a 4-3 decision to postpone the vote on legislation that, if passed, would establish a new set of guidelines for the lease of city-owned property.

Council member Kate Schlademan motioned for the postponement, following a failed motion by council member Nicole Kowalski to remove an item that would limit these leases to one-year terms that could only be renewed twice, for a total of three years. Kowalski’s motion was voted down 5-2, with she and Schlademan supporting the time-limit removal.

Kowalski had said before her motion that she didn’t believe council needed to pass leasing guidelines “as part of our legislative agenda,” preferring instead that council “direct [city] staff to implement these rules.” She alleged the legislation was “politically motivated” and intended to stop Destination Hudson from renewing its lease at the old town hall, where it and the Fire Museum share the first floor.

Council President Chris Foster said the need for leasing legislation came to light because several leases at city hall are up for renewal. Four groups currently occupy space there, including Western Reserve Community Band, Hudson Senior Network, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Hudson Ministerial Association.

“It’s our obligation to rectify the fact that these leases were never written in a legally enforceable manner to begin with,” he said.

Chris Banweg, who helped draft the proposed guidelines, said the “three-year element” was included because “council as a whole indicated that they were not interested [in] or wanted to limit endless leases of city space, to make good use of taxpayer dollars.”

“Current leases would or could interfere with some of these other organizations that are looking for space,” he said. “This provides the framework to limit us in using taxpayer resources for a specific organization, picking winners and losers, some organizations over others.”

Kowalski retorted by saying the city is not “overwhelmed with requests for city space, and these are all organizations that do a lot for the community.”

“Over time it will grow,” Banweg then asserted, “and there will be a day, let’s face it, we will have to pick a winner and a loser. We will need a framework to do that.”

Schlademan’s motion moved a vote on the leasing guidelines to the next council meeting, Nov. 1.

Council did vote in favor, however, of four new leasing agreements with the organizations currently using city hall space. The leases were all for one year with a right to renew twice. Those include:

  • Western Reserve Community Band will pay a $200 deposit and $200 annually to use a lower-level storage room.
  • Hudson Senior Network Foundation will pay a $50 deposit and $50 annually for storage of a golf cart in a bay and use of a few cabinets in the storage area.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will pay a $100 security deposit and $100 annually for use of two parking spaces by one of its traveling case managers.
  • The Hudson Ministerial Association, which uses a city hall office for its community resource coordinator, will pay $200 annually.

As part of its consent agenda, council approved the police department’s purchase of two new vehicles, at a price not to exceed $150,000. In a memo, Hudson Police Chief Perry Tabak said council had previously authorized the purchase of eight police vehicles during 2021 and 2022, but only one truck from a 2021 order had been fulfilled and another is expected soon.

“The other six SUV vehicles that were ordered in 2021/2022 have been canceled by Ford until further notice,” he wrote. “When they do resume orders, there will be an additional $10,000 per vehicle increase.”

The $150,000 is expected to help Tabak secure two SUVs, as he and other police chiefs look for alternate vehicle sources.

Council also passed:

  • A $66,000 contract with Samsara Inc. for vehicle fleet monitoring equipment and services.
  • Increases totaling $180,000 for approved purchase amounts of food, alcohol and golf pro items at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Course in response to demand.
  • A $400 donation from EMS Outreach of Hudson to fund the purchase of two automatic external defibrillators with temperature-controlled cabinets for installation on the downtown Greens.

Fiscal projections

Council heard the first reading of a resolution to “adopt in concept” the city’s five-year forecast for 2023-2027 and an ordinance establishing appropriations for its 2023 budget.

According to the five-year plan, revenue – which was at $27.8 million in 2021 – is projected to increase from $28.9 million in 2023 to $31.4 million in 2027. Expenses – $31 million in 2021 – are expected to decrease from $30.4 million in 2023 to $28.2 million 2027. Over the same time period, the general fund balance – $13.1 million in 2021 – is projected to grow from $12.6 million to $18 million in 2027.

General fund appropriations for 2023, if approved, would be set at $30.4 million. ∞