Money matters occupy Common Council

HUDSON – Discussion of ways to save money occupied the Common Council meeting and the Financial Committee that met prior to it this week.

At the council meeting Tuesday evening, February 15, Mayor Rick Scalera suggested the city lobby the state legislature for the right to open contracts to reexamine language that is affecting the city’s finances adversely. “A lot of things in contracts are coming back to haunt us,” he said.

He cited an arbitration case in which the city just lost $7,000 when one police officer who is married to another chose to go onto a family plan. Since the officer was still insured by the city, the mayor didn’t think it was fair that the city still had to pay the buyout fee and blamed it on the language of the contract.

Another case involves payments to police for time they didn’t work when City Hall was closed during two snow emergencies. “The contract language gives them the right to get compensated,” he said. “We’re not antiunion. We just need to make a community that is affordable, now and 20 or 30 years in the future.”

At the Finance Committee meeting, City Treasurer Eileen Halloran proposed forming a subcommittee to consider whether the city could save money and obtain better youth programs if it contracted it out youth services to local nonprofits. She said that the goal is more efficient use of the money.

Alderman Ohrine Stewart (4th Ward) said she objected to losing city jobs, but Victor Mendolia, head of the city Democratic Party, said, “It could lead to more jobs in the private sector and could result in a public-private partnership.”

Ms. Halloran said that the youth program costs the city $346,000 for salaries, insurance, workman’s comp, health care and other expenses, and might cost $75,000 if outsourced.

“A YMCA knows how to run these kinds of programs efficiently. Who do we have here that we could contract with confidence?” asked Common Council President, Don Moore, who said that the city has only been in the business of youth programming for a relatively short time.

Before that the Boys and Girls Club provided a place for kids to get together. The organization closed because it could not get grants to fund the overhead, including utilities, maintenance, and repairs.

Mr. Moore who pointed out that attendance at the Youth department was down, said the Mayor suggested hiring a consultant to help assess the current program. None of us here are experts in youth programming. We need to assess are these programs working. If not, then why?”

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