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Deadline pressure to adopt new Nashua budget

Union Leader Correspondent

July 27. 2014 10:17PM

NASHUA — With four days left to approve the city’s fiscal year 2015 budget, a special Board of Aldermen meeting has been planned for tonight to possibly finalize the spending plan.

According to the city charter, the operating budget must be adopted by Aug. 1, City Attorney Steve Bennett said.

Alderman David Deane, president of the board, scheduled the meeting to address the matter, since a two-thirds majority of the board failed to approve the budget last week.

Following several amendments to the mayor’s proposed budget of nearly $241.2 million, the newly proposed general fund budget stands at $241.3 million, with the combined municipal budget at $256.7 million.

To date, aldermen have added $123,392 to Lozeau’s recommended budget, which includes an increase of $70,000 to the police department budget, an increase of $160,000 to the school district budget, a decrease of $40,000 for the downtown facade program, a decrease of $50,000 in contingency funds and other, smaller decreases.

According to the city charter, aldermen “may reduce any item or items in the mayor’s budget by a vote of a majority of the board, but an increase in or addition of any item or items therein shall become effective only upon an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of the board of aldermen. The budget shall be finally adopted not later than the first day of the second month of the fiscal year.”

Bennett said it has been about 10 years since aldermen approved a budget after Aug. 1. The last instance, he said, was likely 2004 under the guidance of former mayor Bernie Streeter.

This budget season has created conflict between the aldermanic Budget Review Committee and Lozeau, as the committee recommended adding funds for both the police and school budgets.

“I am not happy about that,” Lozeau admitted last week, saying she is still willing to listen to the debate. She also mentioned smaller decreases made to the mayor’s budget for meals and other expenses.

“I am the ambassador of our city,” she told aldermen, adding she would like to be able to offer coffee when hosting elected officials.

Despite the difference of opinions, Lozeau said, “I see us as one team — all of us here for the same reason.”

The proposed budget is about 2.2 percent higher than the former city budget, and would increase the tax rate by less than 3 percent. Tonight’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Nashua City Hall.

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