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Nashua mayor set to unveil budget

Union Leader Correspondent

May 12. 2013 9:50PM

NASHUA — Mayor Donnalee Lozeau will unveil her proposed fiscal year 2014 budget to the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, saying it will again result in a tax increase of less than 3 percent.

“I don’t think taxes should ever increase more than 3 percent in a year, if possible,” said Lozeau.

While the mayor would not reveal her final budget number on Friday, saying she hasn’t put the final touches on the extensive spending plan, Lozeau said it is a responsible budget.

“I am pleased. I think we have done a really good job, especially when we work as a collective team,” said Lozeau. She asked each city department to present a budget with a maximum 1 percent increase from the previous year.

Only two city departments — the Nashua School District and the Nashua Police Department — exceeded that request, which were the same departments that went over during last year’s budget season. Lozeau noted that some departments, without going into specifics, were able to offer budgets with less than a 1 percent increase.

“Every year we have some different set of challenges. This year we had a $3.7 million increase in pension costs,” said Lozeau, adding that there has been a significant loss of local, state and federal revenue in the past few years.

Tuesday will mark the mayor’s sixth budget presentation since she took office. Last year she presented her proposed budget of $230,607,330 to aldermen on May 8. Once the final budget was adopted by aldermen in July, it resulted in a 2.48 percent tax increase, she said.

There were about five wrap-up meetings by the aldermanic Budget Review Committee last year before the spending plan was finally approved by the Board of Aldermen. Typically, there are closer to just one or two wrap-up meetings, she said.

“It is always our hope that we will be able to work together and have a budget adopted in June,” Lozeau said on Friday.

Last year, the fiscal 2013 budget was not approved by the Board of Aldermen until 12 days into the calendar year. Although the fiscal year begins on July 1, the budget doesn’t have to be authorized until Aug. 1, according to the city charter.

Still, some aldermen expressed frustration at last year’s process, specifically because the aldermanic Budget Review Committee had not yet made its recommendation on the mayor’s proposed $230 million budget by the time the new fiscal year had begun.

Last year’s spending cap of 1.7 percent was the lowest in recent history. Lozeau said Friday that this year’s spending cap is closer to 2.3 percent.

Once the mayor’s proposed budget is presented to aldermen on Tuesday, a series of budget meetings will be held giving aldermen time to publicly scrutinize and review each department budget before a public hearing is held in the coming weeks. The mayor, along with various city department heads, will be attending the upcoming meetings to further explain their reasons for specific spending proposals.

Lozeau is expected to include the Board of Education’s recommended $97 million school district budget to aldermen as originally presented by school officials.

However, Lozeau told the Board of Education last week that her recommendation is dependent on the city receiving about $600,000 in surplus funds from the current school budget.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Nashua City Hall.

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