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Rector vetoes resolution to terminate contract with GAR

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File photoHudson Mayor Rick Rector gives a speech following being officially sworn into office in January 2018. Rector vetoed a Common Council resolution Friday to terminate the city's contract with GAR Associates.
April 19, 2019 05:56 pm Updated: April 19, 2019 07:07 pm

HUDSON — Mayor Rick Rector on Friday vetoed a resolution by the Hudson Common Council that would authorize him to terminate the contract with the company hired to do the city’s revaluation.

Meanwhile, the Common Council President Thomas DePietro responded by saying there would be a vote to override the veto at a special meeting next week.

“After carefully reviewing the manner in which the resolution was presented, the content of the resolution itself, and the conclusions contained in it, I cannot support the resolution at this time,” the mayor wrote in his veto message to the Common Council.

The Hudson Common Council voted at its formal meeting Tuesday night to authorize the mayor to terminate the city’s contract with GAR Associates, the company heading the citywide revaluation process. The resolution was presented to the mayor Wednesday, a day after the Common Council vote.

The resolution was in reaction to the preliminary full-value assessments that were mailed to city property owners beginning March 1. Since then, some residents have reported double, and sometimes triple, increases to their real property assessments.

Some on the council, including 1st Ward Alderman Rob Bujan and 5th Ward Aldermen Eileen Halloran and Dominic Merante, were concerned about the legal consequences of the resolutions and abstained from voting. The final resolution was posted hours before the meeting. The rest of the Common Council members, including DePietro, voted in favor of the resolution.

“Specifically, it is my understanding that the resolution was created by unknown parties, and presented to members of the Common Council days before their formal meeting,” according to the veto message. “It is my further understanding that Resolution No. 11 was not reviewed by the Legal Committee as required by the Council’s own Rule of Order prior to being amended and adopted during the April 16, 2019 formal meeting.”

The mayor called for more time to investigate the allegations mentioned in the resolution to determine their accuracy and merit.

Neither the mayor or the Common Council has the authority to set aside the assessment roll, according to the veto message. Rather, the assessor can demand that changes be made to the equalization rate through formulaic increases in property values or demand that the reassessment roll be set aside.

There are also recourses for those citizens who are concerned about their assessments, according to the message. A property owner aggrieved about an assessment made by an assessor has the legal right to seek and administrative review by filing a complaint with the city Board of Assessment Review.

“Fortunately, there is still time for the council to act,” DePietro said Friday. “At our forthcoming meeting on Wednesday, I anticipate a motion for a vote to override his veto. The mayor’s veto asserts that the city has no power to reject the assessment, but it does not distinguish between a preliminary assessment and the final assessment.”

An attorney will be present at the special meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Hudson Area Library, 51 N. Fifth St.

The meeting will determine the Common Council’s next step in relation to the citywide GAR revaluation in progress. The Common Council could then vote to override the mayor’s veto.

Once the final assessment is submitted, the Council can do nothing, DePietro said. But there is still time before that happens, he added.

“It’s unfortunate that at our last meeting, the council had to rely on the same attorney who was already advising the mayor on how to respond to citizen outrage,” DePietro said. “This hampered our understanding of this complex issue. The veto also suggests that the council lacked transparency in this matter. That’s clearly false — the council has listened to the people of Hudson and discussed the matter in the open. It’s the mayor who is hiding behind closed doors.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.