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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nashua aldermen seek to wrap up city budget Monday

NASHUA – Nashua aldermen will reconvene Monday to finalize the city budget after failing to reach consensus on the annual spending plan at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Board members tabled the proposed $256 million budget after a request to approve it failed by a single vote. Aldermen were divided over relatively small sums of money as the evening wound down, with some pushing for the board to offset a $160,000 increase for the school department with cuts elsewhere in the budget. ...

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NASHUA – Nashua aldermen will reconvene Monday to finalize the city budget after failing to reach consensus on the annual spending plan at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Board members tabled the proposed $256 million budget after a request to approve it failed by a single vote. Aldermen were divided over relatively small sums of money as the evening wound down, with some pushing for the board to offset a $160,000 increase for the school department with cuts elsewhere in the budget.

The Budget Review Committee previously recommended adding money back into the budget for schools and police after budget increases for the two departments were trimmed by Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

The current iteration of the budget adds about $123,000 to the proposal submitted by the mayor earlier this year. Passing it requires support from two-thirds of the board, but that obstacle was insurmountable when aldermen voted Tuesday, with nine aldermen supporting the budget and six opposed.

During their deliberations Tuesday, aldermen approved cutting $50,000 from a contingency account and narrowly rejected a proposal to provide $60,000 less to the school department.

The board also voted down a suggestion from Ward 9 Alderman Ken Siegel to reduce funding for the downtown sidewalk project from $500,000 to $400,000 and use money left over from the previous year’s budget to make up for the difference.

Marylou Blaisdell, who chairs the city’s Downtown Improvement Committee, rose during the public comment portion of the meeting to encourage aldermen to leave all funding for the sidewalk project in tact.

“We’ve come a long way with our sidewalks,” she said of the Main Street project, which is in its third year. “We’re nearing the end and it’s crucial that we finish the project.”

In one of its most significant actions Tuesday, the board approved a request from the mayor to funnel $2 million worth of state grants and motor vehicle revenues into a new fund for paving projects. Aldermen approved the proposal on an 11-4 vote.

Aldermen also reversed a recommendation from the Budget Review Committee to establish a new citizen services director underneath the purview of the Board of Aldermen. A motion to restore the position in the mayor’s office passed 9-6 after a lengthy debate.

The board faces an August deadline to finish its budget work for the new fiscal year, which began on July 1. A special meeting is set for Monday at 7 p.m. in the aldermanic chamber at City Hall to finish the work.

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