New Hudson budget avoids service cuts amid COVID-19 uncertainty

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By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Hudson – Non-union employees won’t get traditional cost of living raises, this year. But Hudson will stave off deep budget cuts in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Executive Assistant Tom Moses told the Select Board, Jan. 5.

With uncertainty remaining over levels of state and federal aid to municipalities, Moses presented what he described as a flexible but lean proposal. The Select Board approved the budget.

“There haven’t been a whole lot of additions,” Moses said. “…[Department] budgets have barely increased.”

Preparing for FY2022

Hudson is gearing up for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts July 1. This process follows months of hand wringing for municipal administrators, last year, as the coronavirus tanked local economies, decreasing tax revenues and forcing towns to rely on state aid just as the state struggled to pay its bills.

Despite fears, that state aid eventually did come to Hudson in the 2021 fiscal year thanks primarily to a move to dip into Massachusetts’ “rainy day fund” of emergency dollars.

Now, though, that very decision has people like Moses anticipating the possibility of a drop-off in funding, this year, if coffers run dry and the economy continues its stall.

“I’m not sure where they’re going to get [that money] from,” Select Board Chair Joe Durant said during budget discussions.

As dire as things could be, Moses reiterated that department budgets now approved by the Select Board will allow Hudson to continue operating and serving constituents via its own rainy day fund.

“We are positioned well to be able to fund whatever shortfall does arise,” Durant said, discussing the same topic. “But we have to be extremely careful with spending this year.”

For Hudson, that means delaying those aforementioned cost of living raises for non-union employees.

The town is also pushing back some of its capital plan projects, like the now completed South St. or Wood Square Rotary redesign efforts.

Pay raises and stipends for officials

In personnel line items, Moses declined his own annual pay raise. That, in turn, prompted a brief discussion among Select Board members to erase their annual $1,800 stipends.

“That’s commendable,” Select Board Member Fred Lucy said of Moses’ move. “He leads by example. We should lead by example.”

Also supported by Select Board Member John Parent, Lucy’s measure failed by a 3-2 margin.

“I appreciate the effort but I’m not sure who will be collecting that and I don’t want to commit for somebody else at this point,” Durant said of his “No” vote, nodding towards upcoming municipal elections which could see as many as two new faces joining the Select Board.

Hudson officials will eventually present their FY22 budget to Town Meeting. To see the budget as it currently stands, click here