Mayor Lozeau says state of Nashua is 'great'
NASHUA - By embracing new challenges, preparing for the future and working hard as a collective community, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said Tuesday that Nashua is continuing on a track of great success.
"Tonight marks the sixth time I have come before the board to report the state of our city. I have been fortunate each year to report to you that the state of Nashua is good. In fact, it has been great," Lozeau told the Board of Aldermen, adding this year is no exception.
Mentioning major projects within the city, including the Broad Street Parkway, Jackson Falls Dam improvements, downtown renovations and the city's Riverwalk, the mayor said during her annual State of the City address that many new and old efforts are helping to make the city an even better community.
"Nashua's continuing story is inspiring in the face of a national economy, and to some extent a state economy, that is reported in dire condition," she said.
By working within a balanced budget, attracting businesses, improving infrastructure, updating capital equipment, providing quality education and protecting citizens, the city is thriving, according to Lozeau, who said all of these successes have been possible while keeping the tax burden reasonable.
"The city thrives because of the care and nurturing of a community of engaged citizens," said the mayor, adding she is enthusiastic about what can be accomplished by working in unison.
Lozeau highlighted the city's financial status, saying three rating agencies gave Nashua high scores, citing strong reserve levels, strong financial management and a diverse economy with good wealth indicators and low overall debt.
"Good financial management allowed the city to complete a refunding, or a refinancing of bonds that saved the city $2 million dollars .," said the mayor. "The city was able to sell them at an average interest rate of 2.86 percent. This is an excellent rate, and one of the lowest in the city's history."
While nearly all of the comments made by Lozeau on Tuesday were positive, she did have some harsh words for five Nashua Police Department employee unions that have not reached new contract agreements. The employees of those five unions, she said, are working under previously negotiated contracts, meaning they are receiving the same benefits at a lower cost than what their colleagues have been contributing since October 2011.
That shortfall will equal about $438,415 at the end of the month, according to Lozeau, who called on the unions to reach a reasonable resolution that reflects fairness and equity achieved in the other employee contracts.
"When the chips are down, there is no credible argument for special treatment of discrete groups. We are all in this together," she said.
The most significant fiscal challenge facing the city is a 26 percent increase that the New Hampshire Retirement System has passed on to Nashua, according to Lozeau, who said that represents an increase of $3.7 million for the city.
The mayor also mentioned the city's acquisition of Pennichuck Corp. last year, saying the municipality has made very good progress transitioning the Pennichuck water utility to city ownership.
"During the upcoming year, as a member of the Pennichuck board of directors, I will continue to ensure that good communications between the company and the public will continue," she said. "We should remain proud to have helped bring our city's precious water resources under public control."
Lozeau said Nashua remains the best place in the world to work, live and raise a family, which she contends did not happen by accident.
"I feel fortunate to have more than 87,000 fellow citizens from diverse backgrounds who strengthen us with their hard work, education, volunteerism and deep cultural diversity," said the mayor. " . Amazing things can and do happen when people work cooperatively and toward the same goal. Though specific goals may vary and contrast, I believe it is everyone's goal to improve the city they call home and leave it a better place for their children and grandchildren."