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Nashua aldermanic committee votes to help soup kitchen

Union Leader Correspondent

December 03. 2013 10:51PM

NASHUA — An aldermanic committee voted Tuesday to contribute $100,000 in taxpayer money to the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter’s capital campaign.

The proposal will still need approval from the full Board of Aldermen, but if it is authorized, the $100,000 in contingency funds would help the nonprofit service organization reach or nearly reach its $2 million fundraising goal by the end of the year.

“This $100,000 would go a long way to getting us to our goal,” John Fisher of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter board of directors told the Budget Review Committee.

Alderman-at-Large David Deane proposed the donation to the soup kitchen after learning that two anonymous donors previously agreed to fork over an additional $100,000 in funds to the organization if it is able to reach $150,000 in fundraising by the end of the year. Fisher said it has already raised nearly $90,000 since the challenge was made.

Although the committee supported Deane’s proposal, which will now be voted on by the full Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said she would prefer that leftover Community Development Block Grant funds be used for the project as opposed to funds from the city’s contingency account.

While the city should support the soup kitchen, Lozeau recommended that instead of giving the organization a full $100,000, that aldermen instead consider providing the group with only the necessary funds to help it reach its $150,000 benchmark to receive the challenge money. Offering the final funds to help take the fundraising over the top might be more appropriate, Lozeau said in a memo to Alderman Brian McCarthy, president of the board.

Lozeau noted that $67,000 in CDBG funds is currently available for use and could be given to the soup kitchen, describing it as a “perfect fit.” McCarthy agreed that if CDBG funding is available, it should be utilized before contingency money.

However, two representatives from the soup kitchen explained that while the offer is generous, CDBG funding could possibly complicate the project since it has strings attached, especially because it establishes a minimum wage level for work.

According to Fisher, the $2 million in fundraising money will be used to renovate the soup kitchen’s new home on Quincy Street. He stressed that the organization is already in heavy negotiations with contractors who are offering to complete about $2.6 million in work for the estimated $2 million.Deane argued that contingency funds have no intended purpose, just as the remaining CDBG funds have no intended purpose.

“This, to me, is a small investment to the project,” Deane said of the proposed $100,000 city donation to the soup kitchen. He maintained the soup kitchen has offered countless services to the Nashua community by helping to feed the less fortunate in the area and keeping some residents out of the city’s welfare office.

Although the committee recommended the $100,000 donation to the soup kitchen, Alderman-at-Large James Donchess said city officials could continue to investigate the possibility of CDBG funding, and if that avenue of funding seems feasible by the end of the year, the $100,000 contribution from the city could be lowered.

The committee also planned to review three proposed bargaining agreements with city teachers, firefighters and police on Tuesday, but no formal action was taken as of press time.

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