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Nashua mayor to unveil budget in May

NASHUA - Although Manchester city officials are already reviewing their proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, Nashua has about eight more weeks until its budget will be presented to aldermen.

"I have publicly announced that the budget will be provided to the board at the first board meeting in May," Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau wrote in an email to a city resident concerned about the perceived delay.

Last year, the 2013 budget was not approved by the Board of Aldermen until 12 days into the fiscal calendar year.

Although the fiscal year begins on July 1, the budget doesn't actually have to be authorized until Aug. 1, according to the city charter. Still, some aldermen expressed frustration at last year's process, specifically because the aldermanic Budget Review Committee had not yet made its recommendation on the mayor's proposed $230 million budget by the time the new fiscal year had begun.

Last week, local resident Robert Sullivan wrote an email to the Budget Review Committee and Brian McCarthy, president of the Board of Aldermen, questioning when the proposed 2014 fiscal budget will be sent to the committee for initial review.

He noted that Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas unveiled his budget for the coming fiscal year on Feb. 18, about a month earlier than usual, so that school and aldermanic boards had more time to review and approve the proposals.

"We want to make sure that the BOA and the citizens have enough time to review, digest and debate the budget this year," Sullivan said of Nashua's budget process.

In response to Sullivan's concern, Lozeau said her approach of introducing the budget in May has proved effective.

"While I understand you feel it should be provided sooner, as I have said many times, I have come to understand the wisdom, especially in these times, of carefully watching our revenues and expenses, having a better understanding of changes on the state level, and getting closer to year end to be able to bring in a well thought out budget that affords us all the opportunity to know better what it means to our taxpayers," Lozeau wrote. ". Manchester and Nashua have a very different process and cannot be compared apples to apples."

During last year's delay, members of the Budget Review Committee debated several times on the spending plan, which included a nearly 280-page document.

"Everybody looks at things in a different light," Alderman David Deane said at the time, explaining there is only a small window of opportunity for the committee to review the extensive budget. "I think any discussion about spending $230 million plus in taxpayer money is worthwhile."

In years past, Alderman Diane Sheehan said, the budget was approved more effectively. She expressed frustration last summer because of numerous wrap-up sessions by the Budget Review Committee and its delay in making a recommendation to the full Board of Aldermen.

"There is a lot of procrastination just for the sake of procrastination," she said at the time. "It is extremely frustrating."

The 2013 budget was up nearly $3.5 million, or more than 1.5 percent from the prior year's city budget. The $230 million budget resulted in a less than 3 percent tax increase.

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