HUDSON — The Hudson Common Council agreed to further explore two new funding options for its infrastructure needs - a transportation utility and a wheel tax.
The two options will now be presented to the community for feedback before any approval is made. Staff will hold neighborhood meetings, present the information to the Chamber of Commerce, hold meetings with businesses and also hold a public hearing at the council.
The transportation utility and wheel tax was presented at a previous meeting as a way to address the $127 million of work that needs to be done to bring Hudson’s road and sidewalks up to par.
A transportation utility would be charged to city properties based on trips generated to the property added to a base access fee. The wheel tax would be an amount charged annually to those who have vehicles registered in the city.
Implementing these two options would mean less bonding for street projects, though bonding would still be used.
Council Member Randy Morrissette II said he is not in favor of it, though he agreed something needs to be done. He said he has already received calls and emails from people against the proposal, saying it would tax them out of the city.
Council Member Jim Webber said the city has to ask if it wants to stop the degradation of its roads, and he imagines the answer from most citizens would be yes. The proposal provides a different way of funding and an approach based on usage, he said.
“I like funding that’s based on what you use,” Webber said.
Council Member Paul Deziel said it’s a more equitable system. The streets have been neglected for decades, he said, and there’s going to be a price to get them back up.
“Let’s have the conversations with the community, let’s see how it goes, let’s see what people say,” Deziel said. “We have to do something, we absolutely have to do something.”
If not, it will just cost more to fix later, Deziel said.
Mayor Rich O’Connor said if the city does not stay on top of its streets, it’s going to find itself in a hole too big to dig out. If the city chooses to use only bonding for the infrastructure needs, it would mean taxpayers would be paying interest on a big chunk of money just as interest rates are going to start rising very high, he said.
“There is no good solution here, there is no good answer but the reality is we need to figure this out,” O’Connor said.
The public outreach will include numbers so the city can get valuable feedback, City Administrator Aaron Reeves said. Meetings will be held this fall, and the issue will come back to the council before the end of the year.