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July 07. 2014 9:21PM

Panel continues review of Nashua mayor's budget plan

NASHUA — With the new fiscal year already underway, city officials have not yet approved the mayor’s proposed municipal budget of $256.5 million.

On Monday, members of the aldermanic Budget Review Committee continued analyzing the spending plan of Mayor Donalee Lozeau, making several minor adjustments to the recommended fiscal year 2015 budget.

If approved as proposed, the budget would represent a 2.2 percent increase over the former municipal budget of $251.1 million.

Multiple meetings have been held allowing the committee time to study each aspect of the budget, analyzing each line item and reviewing individual city departments. Under the city charter, aldermen have until Aug. 1 to approve the budget, or exactly one month after the fiscal year begins.

On Monday, the committee added $70,000 to the city’s police department budget. Originally, the Nashua Police Department was requesting $26,635,973 in funds, about a 2.5 percent increase over its prior budget.

However, Lozeau was proposing a lower budget for police of $26,565,973, which represented a 2 percent increase over the department’s prior budget. The committee agreed on Monday that the $70,000 removed by Lozeau would be restored to the police budget.

“People want to go to bed at night knowing that they are safe,” said Alderman Michael Soucy, Ward 5. Soucy said the police department is understaffed in its undercover unit, narcotics unit and patrol division.

“I don’t want to go short here,” Soucy said of the police finances.

“We do know there is a serious drug problem,” agreed Ward 4 Alderman Pamela Brown, who also supported restoring the $70,000 line item for police.

By keeping the $70,000 originally suggested by the police department, at least one new officer could potentially be hired, according to Soucy.

Other amendments were made to the city’s proposed budget on Monday, as the committee eliminated $40,000 from the Economic Development Department’s downtown facade program — leaving the line item empty.

“It seems like a little bit of a luxury this year,” Ward 9 Alderman Ken Siegel said of the program that allows Main Street businesses to apply for funds to help improve the exterior of their buildings.

The committee also reduced the Purchasing Department’s advertising budget by $10,000. At the time of this report, the committee had not yet finalized its recommended budget, which must go before the full Board of Aldermen for an official vote.

Lozeau said recently that her proposed budget, which is outlined in a 267-page document, would result in a less than 3 percent tax increase for local residents.

khoughton@newstote.com


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