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May 08. 2013 11:13PM

Nashua mayor says proposed school budget hinges on surplus

NASHUA - Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said she would present the Board of Education's recommended $97 million budget to the Board of Alderman as is - on one condition.

Lozeau told the Board of Education in a meeting on Tuesday night that her recommendation is dependent on the city receiving around $600,000 in surplus funds from the current school budget, which is what the city received last year.

"There is no point in speculating on what would happen to (the district's recommended budget if surplus funds are not as much as expected). And beyond that, a million things could happen with the budget between now and when it is finalized that could result in me or the Board of Aldermen recommending changes," Lozeau said.

Superintendent Mark Conrad said he is confident the budget surplus will indeed be around $600,000. He also said he wouldn't speculate as to what would happen to the budget if the surplus is not as much as expected.

Dan Donovan, the district's chief financial officer, was more cautious with his expectations for the surplus.

"(Lozeau) is hoping there will be that amount because there was that amount last year. I am not saying there is that much - there might be more, there might be less. I have been working on that estimate for a few weeks, and it should be finished early next week," Donovan said.

Lozeau said budgets are always constructed based on the best information people have to work with at the time and adjustments are made when the financial picture becomes clearer.

"A lot can happen between now and then, and just to be clear, the Board of Aldermen can alter my budgets in any way they see fit," Lozeau said.

Conrad said the surplus funds are important because the district's recommended budget represents a 1.7 percent increase over this year's budget. Lozeau recommended that city departments present budgets with increases of no more than a 1 percent.

The only other department in the city to go over 1 percent is the police department, Lozeau said.

Conrad said the meeting with the mayor was positive.

"The Board of Education and the mayor work well together, the Board of Alderman as well," he said. "I think residents expect that of us, to come up with a budget that is in the best interest of the taxpayer and student, and that is what I saw happen."

Conrad said that the Board of Alderman would probably not give final approval of the budget until June.


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