Council terminates two CRA agreements, makes meeting adjustments

by Judy Stringer

May 16 city council meeting

Following the recommendation of its Tax Incentive Review Council, the city of Hudson will discontinue Community Reinvestment Area agreements with the owner of the properties at 6288 Hudson Crossing Pkwy. and 725 W. Streetsboro St. Council voted 6-0, with council member Chris Banweg absent, to continue 12 CRA and Job Creation Program agreements with area businesses and terminate two.

At the May 6 workshop, council President Chris Foster said both properties – now owned by one company – have failed to meet revenue and job growth targets established in their tax-break agreements.

“Ever since I’ve been on this committee, they have not made their numbers,” Foster said, adding that “they don’t seem to have their arms around what the future revenue potential of that building is.”

“They were purchased as a part of multinational roll up, so they just happen to be assets that some company owned, that some other multinational bought, that ended up in a portfolio, and they’re sitting there going, ‘I don’t know,’” he said.

Future meetings

Council had several discussion items related to its own meetings.

First, council will no longer hold executive sessions in connection with workshop meetings – a rule set forth by newly appointed City Solicitor John Kolesar.

“I think it’s best going forward that we only have executive session during regular or special council meetings,” said Kolesar, noting that decision was made after reviewing the city charter. “In addition to that, I will remind all council members, and anyone present in executive session, that anything that is discussed is considered confidential under most circumstances.”

“Technically, you’re not supposed to be having executive sessions on workshops,” City Manager Thom Sheridan explained to council at the May 8 workshop. “They’re only supposed to be on the council meetings. … And that’s what I remember when I first started here. I don’t know when they kind of went on to workshops.”

Also, the dates for regular meetings and workshops will be combined for the months of July and August, with workshops immediately following the regularly scheduled 7:30 p.m. meetings on Tuesdays, July 11 and 18, and Aug. 1 and Aug. 15. Normally, council staggers workshops and meetings on Tuesday evenings throughout each month.

Council passed a resolution approving the amended summer schedule, which Sheridan had said at the workshop was intended to “bring you guys in only two days in a month, which you’re required to do, and get everything wrapped up.”

Finally, council voted in favor of a motion set forth by Foster that council member Nicole Kowalski be excused for maternity leave for three consecutive regular meetings, commencing when she gives notice of her leave. Foster said that although there had been some conversation about codifying such leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, council members do not qualify for FMLA because they are elected officials.

Waterline extension

The issue has not yet emerged in any legislative form, but recent workshops have included various studies and discussions related to extending Hudson’s water service to the city of Peninsula, its residents and businesses. Hudson would not pay for the construction of the waterline, according to Sheridan. That cost would fall on the county or Peninsula, or both.

 The city would, however, be responsible for ongoing maintenance costs, and Peninsula users who tap into the systems would be charged a premium, likely around 50% higher rates than Hudson customers pay.

Council member Skylar Sutton has repeatedly voiced his objection to the plan. Sutton contends that the city should focus on getting water to Hudson homes that still rely on wells. According to the city’s online DataHub, 3,298 addresses, or 32%, have well water.

In the May 9 workshop, Foster called the waterline extension plan “a balanced approach,” suggesting the 50% premium would provide investment for expansion inside the city. “I think it’s the direction we need to go,” he said.

Council gave Sheridan the green light to begin negotiating with Peninsula, the county and the EPA on various aspects of the project. ∞