Select Board approves debt exclusion ballot question for Hudson DPW facility

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Select Board approves debt exclusion ballot question for Hudson DPW facility
Hudson’s DPW building stands in town. (File photo by/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON — A debt exclusion question for the replacement of the Department of Public Works operation facility will be on the May 8 Annual Town Election ballot. The ballot question is necessary to fund a new DPW garage and facility for workers and replace the current one, which was built in 1967.

It is included in the current draft of the 2023 annual Town Meeting warrant as Article 22, which calls for an appropriation for $23.9 million to fund the new facility over a span of many years.

At the March 27 Select Board meeting, Executive Assistant Thomas Gregory said the state statute allows a levy for a municipality to increase from one year to another by 2.5% in addition to the new growth achieved.

To be able to afford the debt services for large building projects, Gregory said communities will appropriate funds at Town Meeting that are contingent on a ballot question. He added the town has funded larger projects this way, and there is a tax impact over the span of twenty years, which might vary.

He estimated the average family tax bill would increase by $279 the first year. That number would decrease each year as the borrowing is paid off. The amount of the debt exclusion for the DPW facility is over $2 million for the first year.

With the Hudson High School and Senior Center projects at two to three and five years left in their borrowings respectively, Gregory said the impact may be less than what was first calculated.

Why is this proposed

DPW Director Eric Ryder explained that the existing DPW Garage has “well outlived its useful life.” Both the Select Board and Finance Committee have had tours of the facility. The DPW has considered the future use of the building for about 50 years and its increasing role for Hudson.

“We are ultimately squeezed for space here,” Ryder said. “As part of the new building, we looked at putting office space in.”

Select Board approves debt exclusion ballot question for Hudson DPW facility
A rendering of the proposed DPW facility was shared to the Select Board. (Photo/Town of Hudson)

Ryder said they approached the project with this in mind, and building out the offices made the most sense.

“The staff really deserves this. They work hard,” he added.

He said anyone who has seen the building can tell it is in tough shape. Open houses for the public to see the condition of the facility will be scheduled soon, and photographs of its condition would soon be available at the town site for the DPW.

Select Board member Shawn Sadowski said tough shape was not the adjective he would use to describe the condition of the DPW facility.

He said, “I would use deplorable.”

He encouraged the public to go on the tours when they are available to see for themselves.

James Quinn agreed with Sadowski and said that he does not always like to spend money. However, he said that the DPW staff who are responsible for providing emergency services and plowing the streets have to report to work in this facility

“If I had a son or daughter who were going to tell me they were going to work there every day, I’d tell them to go look for another job in some other town,” Quinn said.

Quinn urged people to “keep an open mind” about the project and noted that “seeing is believing in this case.”

He also asked what happens if they hire a female employee in the current facility. Ryder said although they have not had to address this scenario yet, the new facility will have separate locker rooms for men and women.

Ryder said the residents would be making the decision to approve the funding at Town Meeting, which is why he encouraged people to attend the tours and “actually see what (the DPW is) working with.”

Police Chief Richard DiPersio reiterated Gregory’s statement that planning for future growth was a big part of the project.

He added that when he heard Ryder was going to be proposing a new facility for his staff, he saw it as an opportunity for the Hudson Police Department to expand their offices and maybe acquire archive record storage space.

The warrant is available here.

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