HUDSON — With a new budget season starting in a couple weeks, Hudson town officials are juggling various needs with more limited means. In March, voters narrowly rejected the proposed $23,837,277 municipal operating budget. When the new fiscal year begins in July, the town will be operating under a default budget of around $500,000 less.During Tuesday night’s Selectmen meeting, Town Administrator Steve Malizia said the good news is the town is expected to have about $216,000 in surplus funds remaining by the end of June.
Malizia said some of those funds would be used to address the failing HVAC system at the Central Fire Station, among other things.Although Hudson Fire officials put the HVAC project out to bid twice, only one bid was submitted.
Fire Chief Robert Buxton said it would cost an estimated $80,000 to replace the HVAC system, with that price to include a warrantee and a two-year preventative maintenance program.
Buxton said time was of the essence as the aging fire station’s current system is rife with problems. “The line sets are completely corroded through,” he said. “And there are a lot of leaks.”
Selectman Rick Maddox said he felt the price quoted was much too high. “I’d recommend we put a Band Aid on it,” he said. “Because I cannot support spending $80K on a fire station that’s not going to be there forever.”
Selectman Ben Nadeau agreed, suggesting the town consider going with a less expensive HVAC system.
“We should go with a Chevy instead of a Cadillac,” he told the fire chief.
Buxton reminded selectmen that while the town has the right to reject any bid, in this case, there was only one bid submitted and it’s a long summer ahead.
Chairman Roger Coutu agreed, noting that Central Fire Station “must remain a priority.”
“We need a new station, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon,” Coutu said. “And this isn’t my own house where I can slap a Band Aid on a pipe here and there. It’s a municipal structure housing people 24/7.”“So if $80K is going to be the cost and it’s going to be here for four or five more years, then I think that’s money well spent,” the chairman added. “Because the fact is we do have surplus funds to do this now and take it out of the budget for the coming year.”
Following a lengthy discussion, the board voted 4-1 in favor of replacing Central Fire Station’s HVAC system, with Maddox opposed.
The board also voted to spend another $39,000 for upgrades to the police department’s security system.