Leasing guidelines, budget bills get the go-ahead

by Judy Stringer

Nov. 15 city council meeting

Hudson City Council passed, with a 4-2 vote, legislation that creates a new set of guidelines for leasing city-owned property. Council members Kate Schlademan and Nicole Kowalski voted against the measure. Chris Banweg was not present.

A vote on the leasing legislation had been postponed at two previous council meetings, amid ongoing changes to the guidelines. The most recent amendments expand the age limit of organizations who are eligible for new leases from those that are one year or younger to those that are two years or younger, among other clarifications.

Kowalski made three motions for additional amendments to the language, including a motion to strike organizational age as an eligibility requirement altogether.

Council member Skyler Sutton said he did not support that particular change, as it would “gut the whole document.”

Kowalski also sought to remove a rule that restricts new leases to one year with no more than two, one-year renewals and to insert the word “comparable” into a requirement that organizations seeking city-owned space demonstrate that there is no alternative space available within Hudson, so it would read “no comparable, alternative space is available.”

Each of the three motions failed, 4-2, with Kowalski and Schlademan supporting and the other four presiding members dissenting.

In final comments before the vote on the legislation, Kowalski said she was “really disappointed that all three of my motions were voted down.”

“I think that it’s unfortunate that we would take that power away from future councils, to be able to evaluate on a situation-by-situation basis with what would benefit the community and what the needs are,” she said.

Schlademan said she believed the guidelines were too restrictive. The purpose of the legislation, she explained, was “not to pick winners and losers” when it comes to who can lease city-owned space.

“However, we’re still giving preference to some organizations over others by making this so restrictive,” she said.

Fiscal projections

Council made two changes to spending in the proposed five-year forecast before passing a resolution adopting that 2023-2027 plan. Sutton motioned to remove the items “downtown study” at a cost of $50,000 and “downtown design – fabricate and install” at a cost of $300,000 from a list of 25 planned public projects.

The downtown study line item was removed from the 2023 budget as well, which council also passed as amended.       

City Manager Thom Sheridan said the purpose of those line items was to put “cohesion” around a number of suggestions and service requests that have come from merchants and others, such as “lighting on the sidewalks” and “signage updates.”

Sutton said he was concerned “that we’re opening ourselves up to a can of worms if we just say we’re going to throw less than a half million dollars at downtown without actually knowing [what it is] for.”

“Let’s have a deeper discussion on what it is and then we can add things back,” Sutton said.

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 $30.5 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 to $18 million in 2027.

General fund appropriations for 2023 would be set at $30.5 million.

Council also held a public hearing and heard second readings on two other pieces of legislation.

The first is a resolution accepting the city manager’s recommendation not to implement the Growth Management Allocation System for 2023. That system restricts the number of new dwellings that can be approved and is not recommended for 2023 due to a lack of “appreciable population change,” according to the resolution. 

The other is an ordinance that will revise the city’s water rates. Currently, the city offers two rates based on service area. The ordinance would establish one blended rate, which would increase 6% per year from 2023-2027 and 2% thereafter.

No one addressed council for either public hearing. ∞