Goats, website update, more on chopping block for city budget
The Hudson Common Council approved a handful of last minute cuts ahead of approval of the 2018 city budget, bringing the total down to $8,501,472 with a mill rate of 5.274.
Surpassing its self-imposed mill rate of 5.25, the original budget for 2018 was $8,649,472, with a mill rate of 5.36.
Mayor Rich O'Connor urged council members and staff to "roll up our sleeves" to bring the mill rate back down, and get back within the self-imposed number.
City Administrator Devin Willi said the city could use unexpended capital project money from several years back for one line item, $85,000 for new squad cars. Doing so would bring the mill rate down to 5.31.
O'Connor suggested putting off the hiring of a new patrol officer and patrol sergeant, and waiting until the new chief is in place to make that change.
"I think that we would be doing our taxpayers a service if we were to try to keep that levy as low as we could right now," O'Connor said.
During a public hearing for the budget, Hudson Police Officer Ed Rankin asked council members to approve the addition of both new positions. He said growth in Hudson means more officers are necessary to serve the public, and support each other on calls.
"Please keep my family safe folks and give us what we need," Rankin said.
Council Member John Hoggatt said he did not agree with cutting the two new positions, as the department had asked for three originally.
"They're already short-handed and really need another supervisor out there," Hoggatt said.
Council Member Randy Morrissette said he approved making cuts, but not to police department positions.
"There is money to be cut if you wanted to do that," Morrissette said.
One recommendation Morrissette had was cutting $12,500 for goats, which were set to be used to clear buckthorn.
"Another year is not going to make or break that situation," Council Member Jim Webber agreed.
Another suggestion was delaying an update of the city website, priced at $11,500.
Police Chief Marty Jensen said the two new police department positions would take time to hire, and likely wouldn't start until March. That means two months of salary could be removed from the budget, a total of $34,000.
Jensen also said the department could remove the budget line for a new police vehicle lease, and continue to use a current vehicle for another year. That change would save an additional $5,000.
The council approved the new budget with all the above changes.
"I'm not sure there's much else," Morrissette said.
One recommendation that was not included was lowering the contingency budget, but Morrissette and Council Member Tom McCormick did not support doing so.
Overall the council cut the budget down by $148,000.
"It's amazing what we can do when we roll up our sleeves a little bit," O'Connor said.