In Nashua, budget panel OKs adding 1 patrolmanBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
June 09. 2015 10:02PM
NASHUA — An aldermanic panel is recommending that money for an additional police officer be added to the proposed budget, which will allow extra patrol coverage in the downtown area.
This week, the Budget Review Committee voted to increase the suggested spending plan by $55,000 to hire a new patrolman. With the recommended change, the proposed fiscal year 2016 budget now stands at $260,526,617.
“Given that there were so many major crimes last year, it ate up their budget,” Alderman-at-Large Lori Wilshire said. “I can’t see cutting public services in safety.”
One additional police officer on board will ultimately reduce crime in the city, said Alderman Mike Soucy, Ward 5.
The full Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on the overall city budget in two weeks, according to Alderman David Deane, president of the board.
“We need to be transparent and promote open government,” Deane said on Tuesday, explaining residents will have ample time to review the changes, study minutes from Monday’s Budget Review Committee meeting and have a final chance to comment on the amended spending plan before aldermen vote on June 23.
If approved, the new budget will be about $50,000 below the city’s spending cap, according to officials.
Several other changes were proposed to the budget on Monday; however, none of the recommendations were supported by the committee.
A request to reduce the school department budget by $380,000 was eventually withdrawn and followed by a request to reduce educational spending by $183,000.
The $183,000 would still represent a 1.5 percent increase in the school department’s budget, explained Alderman David Schoneman.
“The public school is not cut to the bone,” he said, maintaining the district would be able to manage with a 1.5 percent increase in spending, as opposed to a 1.7 percent hike.
His fellow aldermen disagreed.
Alderman Pam Brown, Ward 4, said it would be reckless for aldermen to reduce the school budget any further.
“We have an excellent school system, and they are accountable,” Brown said. “To deprive them of every cent is not fair.”
Wilshire echoed those concerns.
“I don’t want any services cut to our students,” said Wilshire, adding there are contractual obligations for salary wages that must be funded.
Soucy said that aldermen cannot continue authorizing pay raises that exceed the spending cap, maintaining he will be more cautious when voting on upcoming bargaining agreements.
According to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, teachers and firefighters have not received the same amount of wage increases as city police. She highlighted several years of pay adjustments for patrolmen, which range from .7 percent to 5.6 percent in recent years.
“We have to take a strategic approach,” Soucy said.