In Nashua, budget up 1.5 percent for 2013
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau unveiled her recommended budget of $230,607,330, which is up 1.5 percent from the current $227.2 million budget.
';This is a responsible budget,'; Lozeau told city officials. ';This budget, as provided, should again result in a less than 3 percent tax increase.';
Her proposed budget is about $554,000 below the city's spending cap. Last year's budget was about $979,000 below the spending cap, and resulted in a 2.8 percent tax increase.
Lozeau recommended that each city department provide a budget with a less than 1 percent increase from the prior year. She said every department — with the exception of the Nashua School District and the Nashua Police Department — was able to achieve that guideline.
The largest department budget is the school district, which the mayor is recommending at $125.9 million, about a 1.15 percent increase from the current budget. The next largest department budget is the police department at $24.5 million, with the fire department following at $20 million.
This is the mayor's fifth budget presentation since taking office, and she said each budget presents its own set of challenges. This time around, Lozeau explained that the spending cap of 1.7 percent is the lowest in recent history.
The mayor said the city has not fully recovered from state and local reductions totaling close to $20 million in recent years. Health care costs continue to rise, and eight union contracts are still at an impasse, she said.
Other significant department budgets include the Street Department with $7.2 million; Public Libraries Department with $3.2 million; Parks and Recreation with $3.3 million; and Capital Improvements at $1.8 million.
';We are continuing to make wise choices,'; she told aldermen. Despite tough economic times, Lozeau said the city is continuing to allocate funds to maintain services, buildings, public safety and infrastructure.
The Capital Reserve Fund is proposed at $1.7 million.
She described the increases as reasonable, and said the proposed budget offers good fiscal stewardship that addresses immediate and future city needs.
Beginning today, 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. Lozeau said she will be attending each of the upcoming meetings, along with the department heads, to further explain her reasons for specific spending plans.
None of the aldermen commented on the proposed budget after the mayor's presentation.