NASHUA — Residents took turns criticizing and sometimes praising the city’s proposed municipal budget of $256 million during Monday’s first public hearing on the recommended spending plan.
Raising concerns about salary hikes, tax increases and general spending, citizens questioned Mayor Donnalee Lozeau about the suggested fiscal budget for 2015.
Lozeau’s proposed operating budget is $241 million, however total appropriations are closer to $283 million, and the combined annual municipal budget is $256 million — an increase of 2.2 percent from the existing year.
“I think it is a responsible budget that strikes the right balance,” said Lozeau. If approved as presented, the city’s tax rate will increase by less than 3 percent, according to the mayor.
Robert Sullivan said he and other property taxpayers are worried about tax rate increases hovering near 3 percent each year.
“Eventually, the system won’t be able to contain these increases,” said Sullivan.
Lozeau explained that some of the salary hikes are related to the merit plan as employees attain certain step increases.
Dan Richardson thanked the mayor’s administration for being responsive to questions about the budget, saying he was able to have many questions answered prior to Monday’s public hearing. “You are not having a financial revolution on your hands,” said Richardson, noting the relatively good attendance turnout for the hearing compared to other years.
There were an estimated 70 people present for the special Board of Aldermen meeting.