Nashua mayor presents budget to aldermen
NASHUA — Mayor Donnalee Lozeau presented her proposed fiscal year 2015 budget to the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, describing it as a responsible budget that strikes a good balance.
Her fiscal plan for general fund appropriations is nearly $241.2 million, with a combined annual municipal budget of $256.5 million and a city spending cap of 2.3 percent. The existing budget is $236.1 million.
If adopted, “the tax rate will increase by less than 3 percent,” Lozeau said of the proposed budget.
The mayor anticipates that federal fund revenues for the next year will hover around $60.5 million, which includes estimated state funding for education of about $35.3 million.
“This is again a responsible budget,” Lozeau told the board. “I look forward to having a discussion with the budget committee about this.” The mayor had requested that each city department head create a recommended budget with a less than 2 percent increase from the current year. Lozeau said every department — with the exception of the police department and the school district — was able to meet her requirement.
The police department is requesting a budget of 2.5 percent over the existing year; the school district is asking for financing of 3.5 percent over its current budget.
The mayor, in her budget, is proposing a 2 percent budget increase for police, along with a 3 percent budget hike for schools.
Lozeau expressed concerns about the police department’s plea to increase its authorized strength by four police officers. Lozeau said the police force should be looking at its existing strength, and work from within.
“I believe they have the flexibility,” she said.
The mayor noted that between 2009 and 2011, the city lost more than $16 million in local and state revenue, with additional costs of nearly $9 million during that same time frame.
The good news, she said, is that the city has been successful with its strategies to curb costs. She pointed to employee health insurance concessions, an increase in motor vehicle revenue, a new fleet assessment for city vehicles, strong financial ratings and low interest rates.
But looking ahead to fiscal year 2016, Lozeau said the city will face financial challenges, with even more retirement increases.
The aldermanic Budget Review Committee will begin studying the mayor’s proposed budget next week. The new fiscal year begins July 1, although aldermen have until August to adopt the fiscal year 2015 budget.