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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Committee OKs funds for Nashua River cleanup, Riverwalk expansion, many other projects

By JIM HADDADIN

Staff Writer

NASHUA – A budget committee has approved using $1 million to clean up the Nashua River, expand the Riverwalk and fund more than 20 other projects using money in escrow.

After hearing from Mayor Donnalee Lozeau this week, members of the Budget Review Committee voted to recommend all of her requests – a collection that includes about two dozen items. They included $9,000 to buy new tablets for the Board of Aldermen, $80,000 to complete the Riverwalk from Cotton Mill Square to Main Street, and $225,000 for the snow removal fund. ...

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NASHUA – A budget committee has approved using $1 million to clean up the Nashua River, expand the Riverwalk and fund more than 20 other projects using money in escrow.

After hearing from Mayor Donnalee Lozeau this week, members of the Budget Review Committee voted to recommend all of her requests – a collection that includes about two dozen items. They included $9,000 to buy new tablets for the Board of Aldermen, $80,000 to complete the Riverwalk from Cotton Mill Square to Main Street, and $225,000 for the snow removal fund.

The Budget Review Committee is also recommending a $15,000 transfer to clean up the Nashua River.

A variety of refuse is visible on the riverbed, ranging from old tires to shopping carts from the now-defunct Bradlees department store, which closed in 2000. The city is looking to pay a private contractor to use boats with cranes to scoop up trash between Main Street and Coliseum Avenue.

The river cleanup would last roughly two weeks. Economic Development Director Tom Galligani is in talks with a private contractor to determine the scope of the work.

Funding for all of the escrow transfers comes from money left over from the previous fiscal year. Aldermen must approve plans to shift it around.

The river cleanup would be funded using salary money from the legal department, which wasn’t expended in fiscal 2013.

“This is a great opportunity, and we had the funds available, so I thought I would present it for your consideration,” Lozeau said.

One major expense on the escrow list is a project to expand the gas collection system at the landfill. It was originally estimated to cost in the range of $250,000, but the city received a bid from American Environmental Group, of Richfield, Ohio, to complete the job for less than half that amount.

The vendor quoted the city a price of $118,240. Aldermen decided to set aside $120,000 in escrow money for the project.

The savings will help the city funnel an additional $100,000 into a project to expand the embankment by the Jackson Falls Dam. Lozeau said the city has discovered that the embankment isn’t long enough or wide enough to accommodate the dam. Rebuilding the area is estimated to cost between $60,000 and $100,000.

Lozeau has already approved separate escrow transfers totaling about $1.5 million. That pot of money includes $500,000 for pension costs, $8,520 for the city’s new parking payment stations, $11,754 for Main Street improvements and $50,000 for improvements at Lincoln Park.

The mayor also is pushing for action this month on a separate budgetary issue. Lozeau is requesting that the aldermen use millions of dollars in unassigned funds to lower the tax rate.

As of June 30, the city was projected to have about $32 million in unassigned general funds, according to an Aug. 30 memo sent by the mayor to the aldermen. Lozeau is asking the board to approve using $4.3 million to lower the tax rate.

The fiscal 2014 budget calls for about $236 million in general fund appropriations. The mayor’s request would bring the pot of unassigned money to about 11.9 percent of total appropriations.

The Board of Aldermen will consider the matter at their next meeting Sept. 10.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).