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Nashua mayor: Use $4.3 million to reduce tax rate

Union Leader Correspondent

September 03. 2013 10:29PM

NASHUA — The mayor is requesting that about $2.5 million in escrow funds be used for various projects and capital improvements, while $4.3 million in surplus be used to reduce the city’s tax rate.

About $1.5 million of the escrow requests have already been approved, although the mayor presented nearly $1 million in new escrow requests to the aldermanic Budget Review Committee on Tuesday.

“The amount is pretty typical,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau told the board.

About 24 new escrow requests were reviewed by the committee, including numerous funds for upgrades to the Solid Waste Gas Collection System. Other escrow requests include $9,000 to purchase new electronic tablets for the Board of Aldermen, $80,000 to complete a portion of the Nashua Riverwalk from Cotton Mill Square to Main Street, $15,000 to clean up the Nashua River and $225,000 to replenish the snow trust fund.

An overlay totaling $3.5 million is anticipated for fiscal year 2013, according to a memo written by Lozeau to the Board of Aldermen last week. The $3.5 million overlay consists of a recommended $2 million in current tax rate calculations and $1.5 million from the prior year overlay in reserve for abatements.

Lozeau said previously that it is normal for a city budget the size of Nashua’s — about $236 million — to have surplus in the amount of $3 million to $6 million.

In the memo, Lozeau outlined the balance in the city’s unassigned fund account as $32,280,691 effective June 30. Lozeau anticipates using $4.3 million of the undesignated funds to offset the tax rate, meaning the newly adjusted balance of the unassigned fund account — if approved by city officials — will be nearly $28 million.

The city’s undesignated fund balance will be about 12 percent of the total general fund appropriations of $236 million, according to the memo.

“The upcoming tax year will be a revaluation year,” wrote Lozeau. “Accordingly, the revaluation will impact the actual tax rate as well as each taxpayer’s annual bill. The results of the revaluation will become known in the late September/early October time frame.”

Escrow requests that have already been approved by administration include $500,000 for pension expenses in fiscal year 2014, $75,000 to fund pension costs associated with negotiations, $91,310 for retroactive costs of negotiations, $19,455 in playground equipment, $13,348 for waterfront development along Bridge Street and more.

Although the mayor was initially seeking $250,000 in new escrow funds for gas collection upgrades, Lozeau said Tuesday there will be significant savings since a $118,000 bid has since been offered for the work. However, Lozeau recommended that a portion of those savings — between $60,000 to $100,000 — be added to widen a Nashua River embankment that needs improvement.

At press time, the committee was continuing to review the mayor’s escrow requests.

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