Nashua officials on Tuesday reallocated about $5.2 million in surplus to various projects and expenditures.
Mayor Jim Donchess said that more than half of the $5,262,014 in surplus will be transferred to the city’s Capital Equipment Reserve Fund — a fund that accepts annual appropriations that are intended to help replace Nashua’s fleet of vehicles.
“Without this allocation, there would be no equipment purchases this year,” Donchess told the Board of Aldermen.
With a vote of 11-2, aldermen agreed to reappropriate the $5.2 million of surplus as fiscal year 2022 escrows, which represents about 1.9% of the city’s fiscal year 2021 general fund budget.
Aside from $3 million being put aside for vehicle equipment, some of the remaining surplus funds will be used for the following:
- $30,000 to create a disc golf course;
- $150,000 for a contribution for new budgeting and planning software;
- $200,000 to fund a school district legal payment $150,000 to replace the roof of the stonehouse at Greeley Park;
- $57,000 for citywide playground improvements;
- $127,000 to improve local ballfields.
“There are several items on it that are very critical to the city,” said Alderman Richard Dowd.
Alderman Elizabeth Lu raised several concerns about the escrows, maintaining that some of the projects are duplicated and already funded elsewhere — at least a portion of the cost.
Aldermen approved $75,000 in surplus to initiate a study to determine the future use of the Elm Street Middle School, which will close once the newly constructed middle school opens its doors.
“That was already appropriated in one of the mayor’s approvals,” said Lu, adding $50,000 has already been set aside for the study.
Additional escrows approved include:
- $75,000 for infrastructure improvements;
- $100,000 for police overtime;
- $7,400 for parking interns;
- $12,000 for building and grounds maintenance;
- $25,000 for an affordable housing study;
- $105,000 for a millyard study;
- $50,000 to fund a new design for West Pearl Street.
“It has been said that we have already taken the money from these people so we need to find something to do with it … I don’t think that resonates very well with the residents when they hear us justifying these reappropriations because we already took the money from them,” said Lu.
Aldermen were presented with a separate proposal this week to use an additional $4 million in surplus to lower taxes. That proposal will soon be vetted by an aldermanic committee, but similar requests have received support in recent years.
Alderman Ben Clemons said the escrow requests are appropriate.
“My view of this is that the benefit of spending this money in the various ways in which (they) are proposed helps various people across the city, various interests,” said Clemons. “And, it is more beneficial for us to spend this money this way because we have already collected it from taxpayers, and to give it back to them only to ask for it later on — with inflation being the way it is — having it be even more expensive.
“This is a better use of funds. It is better management of the money,” he said of the escrows.
Lu and Alderman Ernest Jette opposed the escrow requests.