MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) voted to approve a Fiscal Year 2023 city budget and school budget formulated by the BMA, as presented by Ward 3 Alderman and BMA Vice Chair Pat Long.
Amendments to the BMA city budget from Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig’s proposed city budget, presented in March, raised the total General Fund amount by approximately $3.4 million to $169,867,998.
These amendments included just under $5.3 million in expenditure increases to add two positions in the Manchester Police Department, two positions at the Manchester Public Library, a residential tax assessor, retirement and FICA funding for these positions, additional training for the Manchester Fire Department, $1.1 million to fully fund the city’s severance account and just over $3.1 million for the city’s contingency fund.
The amendments also reduced the mayor’s city budget accounting for $800,000 in anticipated health insurance savings, and the expected passage of HB 1221, which would offer one-time payments that would reduce the city’s obligation toward retirement costs by $1.1 million.
Another piece of legislation expected to be signed into law, SB 420, would bring $5.2 million to the Manchester School District in FY’ 23, leading the BMA to reduce the proposed Manchester School District budget by approximately $2 million to $187,097,818.
While proposed expenditures came within the city’s tax cap, set at a 3.57 percent increase for FY’ 23, an additional $1.28 million in tax revenue coming from higher-than-expected property valuation required an override vote for the revenue side of the tax cap.
Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh saw the override vote as a chance to reinvest in the city. Craig agreed, also stating that the nearly $20 million in additional property valuation overestimates in January prove Manchester’s value to residents and businesses.
“I commend the aldermen who worked together to proactively draft a budget that meets the needs of our community. Manchester is a growing city with a strong economy as evidenced by the more than $83 million dollars in new growth generated over the last year,” said Craig. “And as we emerge from the pandemic, we must retain and attract employees in order to maintain and grow critical city services. We consistently hear from our residents that they want police patrolling our streets, roads paved and plowed, more teachers in classrooms – and this budget does all this, and more. The FY23 budget that was approved tonight maintains all essential City services, while balancing the fiscal constraints of our residents.”
The amended school district budget was approved 13-1, with only Ward 6 Alderman Sebastian Sharonov voting in opposition. The vote to accept an override of the revenue portion of the tax cap and the amended city budget was approved 11-3, with Sharonov joined in opposition in both votes by Ward 8 Alderman Ed Sapienza, who felt the additional tax revenue should be used for property tax relief, and At-Large Alderman Joseph Kelly Levasseur.
Levasseur was the only Alderman to oppose a motion to take the city budget resolution off the table, stating that the amendments were presented to the Aldermen with limited notice.
A motion to appropriate $36,682,992 from the Special Airport Revenue Funds to the Manchester Airport Authority for FY’ 23 was approved unanimously.
The Aldermen also approved the mayor’s recommended FY’ 23 Community Improvement Plan (CIP) budget of approximately $156.1 million, which allocates funding from various grants and funds to several capital projects and special programs.
This figure was modified approximately $97,000 from its original total due to expected changes in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The CIP budget passed 12-1-1, with Sharonov voting in opposition. Ward 12 Alderman Erin George-Kelley recused herself from voting due to her employment with Waypoint, a non-profit organization that receives CIP funding from the city.