Nashua aldermen reallocate $2.4 million in surplus fundsBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
September 16. 2018 7:42PM
NASHUA — City officials last week agreed to earmark more than $2.4 million in surplus from the prior budget for new projects and purchases.
The Board of Aldermen’s reallocation of $2,435,591 is on top of the mayor’s previously approved reappropriation of about $1.7 million for items that echoed the original intent of the prior year’s budget but were ultimately delayed.
“The vast majority of the proposed escrows will go into various reserve accounts,” said Mayor Jim Donchess.
Donchess said that he will likely propose that an additional $4.5 million in surplus be used to lower the tax rate, although that will need to be considered by aldermen in the coming weeks.
The largest escrow item is a transfer of $1,325,000 to the city’s Capital Equipment Reserve Fund — a fund that accepts annual appropriations that are intended to help replace all of Nashua’s capital equipment.
“That is also kind of a tradition to try and use this money to help us with expenses we know we will get in future years,” Donchess said of larger items such as vehicles or fire equipment.
Other escrow items include $12,745 to make improvements to the aldermanic chambers, $20,000 for playground equipment and improvements, $10,000 for street planters, $10,000 for speed radar signs, more than $9,000 to repurpose computers at the Arlington Street Community Center, $12,000 for property management services and more.
Aldermen also approved escrow requests such as $200,000 for the school department’s retirement reserve, $100,000 for sidewalk improvements, $100,000 to remove invasive species along the riverfront, $150,000 for library courtyard improvements, $20,000 to fund downtown concerts, $25,000 for improvements to the Tree Streets neighborhood and more.
“What we would like to do is get the Tree Streets residents involved in deciding how to spend some money in their neighborhood,” the mayor told the aldermanic budget review committee earlier this month.
Alderman Ernest Jette expressed concerns about some of the escrow requests.
“It seems to me that we are just spending some money that has not been budgeted … it seems like we are going against what we said before about keeping the budget conservative,” said Jette.
He questioned whether some of the surplus money might be more useful if it was given to the school district to hire more English Language Learner teachers, or given to the fire department to employ more dispatchers.
“It seems that we ought to hold onto this money until the revaluation and the tax rate is set,” said Jette.