Hudson voters deny request for new DPW building

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By David Fassler Community Reporter

Hudson – Residents approved a town budget of more than $60 million at Annual Town Meeting held May 2, but voted down a proposal to build a new Department of Public Works (DPW) facility.

During the discussion regarding the proposed new building, several residents spoke against the measure, which would have required the town to borrow about $2.3 million.

“I think this motion needs to be tabled at this time,” David Cashel, 54 Wilkens St., said. “I know the [current] DPW building has problems, but given the economy, I question if now is the time to borrow $2.2 million to build a new building.”

Cashel cited the increase in debt servicing over the past three years and questioned if tax revenue would be enough to cover the proposed debt.

“The roads are deplorable,” said Gladys Beaudette, 84 Hunter Ave. “We'se been promised they would be repaired and I think the money would be better off going to this.”

Prior to the final vote on the measure, Executive Assistant Paul Blazar noted that the average tax increase to Hudson residents if the proposed building were approved would be $15 to $17 per year.

The article had required a two-thirds majority (119 votes) to pass. But as only 104 residents voted affirmatively during the standing vote, the measure failed.

In other business, voters approved the town's operating budget that had been recommended by the Finance Committee. More than half of the $60.6 million budget – $30.7 million – is allocated for education expenses. Assabet Valley Regional Technical School was approved for $1.5 million, $29.4 million for the Hudson Public Schools, and $1.4 million for transportation costs.

Education expenditures totaled $6 million more in the overall budget than the next six largest items in the budget combined – the DPW, debt servicing, group health insurance, pensions and the Police and Fire departments.

A capital plan for more than $1 million was approved with allocations, including nearly $478,000 to the DPW; $127,000 for roof repairs to the fire station; and $133,000 for three new police cruisers. The Recreation Department received nearly $89,000; the Planning and Community Development Master Plan was allocated $100,000; and air conditioning for the Hudson High School was approved for just over $111,000.

More than $1 million in supplemental appropriations was approved for community development and community preservation, veterans” services, youth sports and the joint police/fire 911 dispatch center. $882,000 was approved in revolving fund articles with expending authority vested in the fire chief, Department of Public Works director, finance director, building commissioner, Senior Center director, Board of Health, and Schools superintendent.

The voters passed over a request to spend $52,000 to fund a downtown parking and infrastructure study.