Hudson defers debt repayment

herbe_a_puce
What’s the connection between poison ivy, ragweed and road salt?
Note: I’ll be posting separately on Monday’s night’s discussion concerning the Sandy Beach development.

The Town of Hudson adopted a revised 2017 budget at a special meeting Monday evening, cutting more than $800,000 from its $13,185,890 fiscal exercise approved in December.

The revision was the result of a complaint during the Dec. 21 budget meeting from Como resident Marcus Owen, who noted that the projected increase in the general tax rate was closer to 9.4% than the less than 5% claimed. The town labelled it an honest mistake and announced it would table a revised budget.

The revision drops all four property tax rates an average of four cents per $100 evaluation. The total debt service tax remains unchanged at just under nine cents per $100. (I’m posting my three-budget comparison comparing tax rates and tariffs.)

As for tariffs, the big change is a $44 reduction in the bill to properties located on the sewer system. The town was apprised of a provincial regulation that everyone capable of connecting to a service is legally obligated to pay for it even if they opt not to connect. Approximately 90 properties are thus added to the sewer tariff roll, reducing the cost per address.

Residential green and blue bin collection will increase by $1.50 per household and drop by $2 for large commercial property owners.

Council had hoped to placate residents by emphasizing the minimal increase ($325,630) between the 2017 revision and the 2016 budget. Instead, questioners homed in on why the town chose to defer repayment of long-term debt rather than cutting operating costs.

Under treasurers Sylvain Bernard and Serge Raymond, the town had concentrated on paying down more than $30 million in long-term debt. In 2015, the town directed nearly $1M to debt reimbursement and succeeded in reducing the total to $28.9M. In 2016, council earmarked $877,610 for debt reduction; this, together with fuel tax rebates and government grant obligations reduced the total to $25.4M.

This year’s revised budget, with just $131,100 earmarked for debt reimbursement and capital expenditures, still shows the town’s long-term debt reduced to $23.4M.

The budget adoption meeting was followed by the scheduled February council meeting, where the town’s escalating overhead was the major topic during opening and closing question periods.

The town’s legal bills were an obvious question period target. Elm resident Bill Driver sought confirmation the town has spent $917,000 over the past two years, leading others to speculate on how that sum would have covered the $746,510 cut in long-term debt service or rebuilding Hudson’s crumbing infrastructure.

So was the skyrocketing general administration budget, which has grown from $1.7 million in the 2016 budget to $2.25 actual, to just under $2.5 million in 2017, leading Melrose resident Jim McDermott to urge the town to start cutting and Charleswood resident Louise Craig to question the 28% increase in the parks, recreation and culture budget. The department will receive $1.5 million in 2017, up from $1.2 million in 2016.

Residents concerned about the town’s growing full-time payroll questioned council’s approval of a resolution hiring a full-time employee on a 12-month contract to seek out and file applications for grants and subsidies for various construction projects. He’ll receive a salary of $58,500 and bonuses totalling $3,000 if he meets the town’s objectives, explained director-general Jean-Pierre Roy. The grant writer’s duties will include compiling an intervention plan, Roy said, adding “we really need an intervention plan…it should have been done 10 years ago. This is one of our challenges – catching up with the past 10 years.” (See Buy a ticket, http://www.thousandlashes.ca)

Even snow removal and the contractor’s liberal use of the town’s salt stockpile came under attack. This year’s contract went to low bidder Transport André Leroux, whose $450,000 bid came in well under last winter’s $625,000 contract. Quarry Point resident Helen Kurgansky told the meeting numbers show the town has spent $148,000 on salt so far and asked who decides when to spread it. Earlier, a Fairhaven resident noted the town spent $100,000 on salt in one month, adding that twice in the past week the contractor has needlessly spread salt on his street.

Roy confirmed the contractor decides when to spread salt and said he’ll monitor its use.

In response to a question from Blenkinship resident Jamie Nicholls about a salt management plan, councillor Ron Goldenberg followed up with the news the town is looking into the comparative costs of in-house snow removal and salting versus contracting it out.

Previous administrations have been pressured by the town’s environment committee to reduce salt use because it encourages the roadside proliferation of noxious weeds, such as poison ivy and ragweed. The environment committee is no more but ragweed and poison ivy are thriving.

Comparison of 2016/2017/2017 revised taxes and tariffs

Tax rates

2016 budget: $12,053,290
2016 residential/agricultural tax rate: 69 cents per $100
2016 non-residential tax rate: 74.73 cents per $100
2016 vacant land tax rate: 83.67 cents per $100
2016 debt service tax rate: 11 cents per $100

2017 budget: $13,185,890
2017 residential/agricultural tax rate: 76 cents per $100
2017 non-residential tax rate: 81.47 cents per $100
2017 vacant land tax rate: 91.22 cents per $100
2017 debt service tax rate: 8.85 cents per $100

2017 revised budget: $12,378,920
2017 revised residential/agricultural tax rate: 71.97 cents per $100 (reduction)
2017 revised non-residential tax rate: 77.13 cents per $100 (reduction)
2017 revised vacant land tax rate: 86.36 cents per $100 (reduction)
2017 revised debt service tax: 8.85 cents per $100 (unchanged)

Tariffs

Water connection

2016 urban residential: $97.50
2017 urban residential: $136.96
2017 revised urban residential: unchanged

2016 Hudson Valleys residential: $408.50
2017 Hudson Valleys residential: $286.57
2017 revised Hudson Valleys residential: unchanged

2016 Raquette residential: $331.73
2017 Raquette residential: $375
2017 revised Raquette residential: unchanged

2016 urban commercial 1-5: $350, $500, $750, $2,500, $2,750
2017 urban commercial 1-5: unchanged
2017 revised commercial 1-5: unchanged

2016 Hudson Valleys commercial 1-5: $350, $500, $750, $2,500, $2,750
2017 Hudson Valleys commercial 1-5: unchanged
2017 revised Hudson Valleys commercial: unchanged

2016 Raquette commercial 1-5: $350, $500, $750, $2,500, $2,750
2017 Raquette commercial 1-5: $400, $500, $750, $2,500, $2,750
2017 revised Raquette commercial 1-5: $350, $500, $750, $2,500, 2,750 (reduction)

Sewer connection

2016 residential: $345
2017 residential: $314
2017 revised residential: $169.47 (reduction)

2016 commercial 1-5: $350, $500, $750, $2,500, $2,750
2017 commercial 1-5: $320, $470, $720, $2,450, $2,700
2017 revised commercial 1-5: $322, $459, $689, $2,297, $2,526 (one up, four down)

Waste removal

2016 residential: $195
2017 residential: $266.10
2017 revised residential: $267.60 (increase)

2016 commercial/commercial 1: $350/$1,500
2017 commercial/commercial 1: $375/$1,750
2017 revised commercial/commercial 1: $375/$1,748 (unchanged/down)

Water/sewer bylaws

2016 Bylaw 504 (waterworks): $65
2017 Bylaw 504: $78.03
2017 revised Bylaw 504: unchanged

2016 Bylaw 505 (sewer system): $108.62
2017 Bylaw 505: $116.37
2017 revised Bylaw 505: unchanged

2016 Bylaw 554 (water, sewage treatment operating costs): $55.40
2017 Bylaw 554: $56.53
2017 revised Bylaw 554: unchanged

2016 Bylaw 581 (Kilteevan sewerage): $797.68
2017 Bylaw 581: $1,041.77
2017 revised Bylaw 581: unchanged

2016 Bylaw 647 (Hazelwood sewer): $1,340.60
2017 Bylaw 647: $1,150.59
2017 revised Bylaw 647 unchanged

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3 thoughts on “Hudson defers debt repayment

  1. Salt is bad for the body and bad for the environment!
    To help reduce the quantity of salt for melting snow on the roads, the answer is a recipe which adds Beet Juice, really!
    “Cowansville, Que., estimates it will use 30 per cent less salt this year as a result of move to beets . In an effort to reduce its ecological footprint, the municipality in the Eastern Townships has added a little beet juice into the mix, which is meant to save money and protect the environment.”

    How sweet it is

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was sure hoping that in finding ways to lower our tax burden they would have gone to work on general administration expenses while continuing to pay down long term debt in a meaningful way . Ron Goldenberg has mentioned in the past he sees a long term debt load of 22-23 million as acceptable for our Town so I guess they saw this cut in debt repayment by 700K as the quickest way to lower the overall budget w/o going back to the individual depts. for cuts. Sure wish they had given Parks and Rec at 1.5 million a second look. Anyway moving on…………..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Now I want you all to vision this:

    3am. Phone and pager rings. Dispatch informs you that someone has driven into a Hydro Pole. It’s down, and so is a section of the power grid. Pascal Laporte will only be there in 5 hours with a brand new pole.

    Get up. Get geared up. Go to scene.

    In municipalities that don’t use salt for their roadways, there is a direct relationship with downed utility equipment and abrasive used. Last winter, Hudson lost 2 hydro poles, directly related to winter conditions and road conditions.

    In St. Lazare, that number was 6. St. Lazare doesn’t use salt, they use rocks. Rocks provide traction but don’t melt ice.

    I’m not saying to use the entire Windsor mine, but salt in moderation is bennifical.

    Like

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