Strong balance sheet, community investment at heart of State of City address

by Judy Stringer

In his annual “State of the City” address, City Manager Thom Sheridan reflected on the upcoming anniversary of the 1799 arrival of town founder David Hudson, ultimately concluding Hudson would be “very happy” with how the city is faring 225 years “after he landed here.”

“And I would agree that we’re a very strong community,” Sheridan said at the Feb. 22 Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce event.

Escalating income tax collections, an AAA bond rating (indicating the highest level of creditworthiness) and a 52% general fund carryover are among the city’s bullish attributes, according to Sheridan.

“We shoot for 40% [general fund carryover] every year,” he said. “We are 12% over that.”

Hudson padded its coffers by nearly $8 million in 2023, with $110.4 million in revenue eclipsing expenditures of $102.8 million. And although it projects a budget shortfall this year – when expenses of $98.3 are expected to outpace revenue of $95.4 million – Sheridan said he doubted that the $3 million loss would come to pass.

“I’m pretty sure we’re not going to have that at the end of the year,” he stated.

In addition, Sheridan highlighted Hudson’s recent infrastructure and economic development accomplishments. He said the city is halfway through a $20-million, five-year connectivity plan with new sidewalks along state Route 303 and Middleton Road. Other noted 2023 projects were quiet zones at railroad crossings on Hines Hill and Stow roads, a turn lane in front of the Drug Mart plaza and seven new flashing crosswalks.  

A city water expansion “campaign” also got underway, he said.

“We’re about halfway through that with different neighborhoods we targeted that we wanted to get them off their wells,” Sheridan explained.

On the economic development side, Hudson gained 24 new businesses in 2023 “even with inflation still on a high end,” he said. “We unfortunately did have some companies that left this year. … But we also have companies coming in, in some of those locations.”

Ongoing developer investment includes Hudson Community Living, a specialized residential community on South Oviatt Street; the Standard Shop Company development, which entails customizable retail space on Hudson Drive; and the new Peg’s Foundation headquarters adjacent to the historic Baldwin-Buss House downtown.

Looking forward

On deck for 2024 is a new 10-year comprehensive plan. Sheridan said a resident steering committee has put in “a tireless amount of time” with 15 public engagements and over 24 committee meetings, debating and drafting the city’s new “roadmap.”

“We’re looking at the downtown phase two [property] … what they’d like to see in that location. What do you see at the former Youth Development Center up on Hines Hill Road? … They’re looking at rec centers, the senior services that we provide in the city or will provide potentially down the road,” Sheridan said.

The steering committee is integrating community input into a final draft, which will be presented to city council this summer.

Hudson will also move forward on a new clubhouse at Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club. The $1.8-million project, slated for construction in 2025, includes a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse to be built off the 18th hole. Golf course revenue will fund the building.

Sheridan discussed a potential overpass at the Hines Hill railroad tracks as another high-impact project. The city learned in February that the Ohio Rail Development Commission would provide $2.9 million toward the $14-million overpass. Hudson is seeking federal grant money, too.

According to Sheridan, monitors installed on the tracks detected 49 trains blocking the intersection for 10 minutes or more during one recent eight-month period, with “a few of them” stopped for over an hour. In some cases, the city has sent police cruisers to help school buses turn around because of the blocked railway. The potential for a stopped train there, he added, also means that two sets of fire/EMS personnel are dispatched for any calls in the northwest portion of the city.

“It’s a major safety issue,” Sheridan said. “I would like to see this bridge get built, and we are one step closer to that.” ∞