Mayor Craig delivers city’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal from home

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MANCHESTER, NH — On March 30 Mayor Joyce Craig addressed the city via a video feed from her home, a first for the city currently under a “stay at home” order by the governor as part of the statewide COVID-19 protocol.

The full text of the mayor’s remarks is embedded here, with highlights below and the full 40-pages of supporting documents at the end of this story.

You can also watch the video via Manchester Public Television’s Facebook page.

General Overview

  • Respects the revenue and expenditure cap by coming in at .049% increase in property taxes, resulting in tax rate increasing $0.12 from $24.32 to $24.44
  • Allocates $163 million to the city
  • Allocates $183 million to the school district which is the Board of School Committee’s FY21 charter compliant budget
  • The average CPI for the FY21 budget permits a 2.1% increase in property tax revenues which equates to $4.6 million. This budget however is at 0.49%, offering an increase of just under $1.1 million in property tax revenues
  • Because the expenditure cap was met, this budget cannot account for $3.5 million of the $7.5 million dollars of State Adequate Education Aid that is earmarked to the School District in FY21
  • The Aldermen can take action and appropriate the $3.5 million of State Adequate Education Aid, which would bring the School District’s budget to just over $186 million, which will be within the 2.1% cap
  • Non-property tax revenue is projected to increase $1 million over FY20
  • Continues to utilize 1/3 of FY20 surplus to fund severance payments
  • Includes funding for all existing collective bargaining contracts and salary agreements, both on the city and school district side – including the new proposed MEA contract that was overwhelming approved by teachers last week

School Side

  • Covers current programming and staff
  • Invests $1.1 million in technology to improve infrastructure and increase access to devices
  • Includes 3 days of professional development
  • Invests $180,000 for one-time classroom supplies
  • If Aldermen appropriate the $3.5 million of State Adequate Education Aid, 98% will go to the Special Education and Teaching & Learning Expendable Trusts and the balance of $110,000 will go to one-time supplies
  • This budget bonds over $8 million for projects previously approved by the Board of School Committee including $1.3 million for the construction at McLaughlin/Hillside for 5-8 redistricting, $3 million for maintenance projects in school building, $2.5 million for the Memorial High School Athletic Complex Rehabilitation, including the track, synthetic field & tennis court, and more

City Side

  • This budget proposes an additional $1.4 million appropriation of State Municipal Aid to City Reserve Accounts, including $575,000 to a new COVID-19 reserve
  •  Incorporates the hiring of an Epidemiologist at the Health Department and an Emergency Operations Coordinator at the Fire Department, at no cost to local taxpayers thanks to a 3-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Combines expenses and revenues for Highway, Parks, and Facilities into a singular Department of Public Works, saving over $320,000 in FY21
  • Covers all costs associated with the increase in Veterans’ Tax Credits, which were last adjusted over a decade ago.
  •  Improves bus service by funding higher frequency on Route #8, so buses will run every 30 minutes instead of every hour.  This is the highest ridership route and it connects more residents to employment than any other route in the city.
  • Provides funding to hire 10 more police officers – resulting in the largest compliment the Manchester Police Department has ever had.
  •  Includes $14 million for bonded projects including:
    • $4 million to facilitate construction of the new road corridor connecting Elm Street to South Commercial Street
    • The construction of Pickle Ball Courts at Prout Park, a skateboarding half pipe at Rock Rimmon, and full reconstruction of the Mill Girl stairs
    • $3.75 million to fund the Mechanical Equipment Replacement (MER) program, including a new fire ladder truck
    • $3.9 million toward the FY21 Road Plan which will result in 36.7 miles of streets receiving upgrades or surface treatments
    • $424,000 to begin our required property tax year 2021 revaluation
    • Invests $600,000 in improving city sidewalks, school sidewalks, and making more sidewalks ADA compliant.  This includes the 50/50 residential program and implementation of a new public/private sidewalk replacement program for commercial property owners
  • Funds the replacement of the City’s 24-year old voting tabulators and purchase of electronic checklists for all 12 wards once they are certified in order to significantly shorten the voter check-in process and maintain the reliable ballot tabulation that we are accustomed to in Manchester
  • Funds $50,000 toward purchasing more books at the Manchester City Library, the first time in over ten years this appropriation has been increased
  • Includes $18,000 in funding for the Intown Manchester Summer Concert Series
  • Includes funding for Southern NH Planning Commission
  • Allocates $50,000 toward a Citywide Public Art Program
  • Includes $5,000 in funding for the Arts Commission
  • Funds professional development for City staff
  • Allocates the $2.8 million in federal funds via Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME funds and Emergency Solutions funds as follows:
    •  Provides $1 million in federal funds for homelessness prevention and affordable housing
    •  Includes $460,000 of unallocated HOME funs to assist with upcoming projects focused on increasing affordable housing
    • Invests $471,000 in federal funds for youth related programs such as the Boys & Girls Club, the Palace Theatre, the Granite YMCA, Girls at Work, QC Bike Collective, City Year, and many more
    • Funds Phase III, and the completion of Rock Rimmon Park
    •  Funds the Fun in the Sun Summer Program
    •  Funds the Summer Reading Program

Below: Budget materials

About Carol Robidoux 6507 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!