Mayor presents FY 2018 budget

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MANCHESTER, NH – Mayor Ted Gatsas delivered the FY2018 budget address on Wednesday night, which covered highlights and emphasized “connections” – some literal, like investing in the city’s rail trail, road repairs and repaving Elm Street – and others more figurative, as in investments that allow for the community to come together for youth and summer programs.

You can review the city’s four-year budget trend, 2014-2017, here.

Below is a release prepared by the city, including budget highlights, the full text of Mayor Gatsas’ address and supplemental budget documents:

Prepared Release for Feb. 15, 2017

Mayor Gatsas highlighted the recent accomplishments the city has made relative to infrastructure including the continued investment in city roads and buildings. In Gatsas’ FY2018 budget he continues the $3 million annual funding commitment for the Annual Road Replacement Fund (A.R.R.F.) for the repaving and reconstruction of city streets.

Gatsas also highlighted economic development in Manchester specifically mentioning the recent announcement of Dean Kamen’s Advanced Regional Medical Institute (ARMI) and the $300 million combined investment being made within the city in the year ahead. “Thanks to the connection Dean Kamen has to the city of Manchester his efforts have been a catalyst to new economic development projects in Manchester,” said Gatsas.
In his FY2018 budget address Gatsas unveiled two economic development initiatives for the Queen City. His first initiative allocates $1.5 million to resurface and reconstruct Elm Street from Webster Street through downtown to South Manchester past Queen City Avenue.

“Elm Street is Manchester’s Main Street. It is the thoroughfare to economic development in our city,” Gatsas said. “We must undertake this project with vision recognizing that Elm Street is the access point, the connection to economic development in the city. For many visitors Elm Street is the first, and last, impression they have of the city, so let’s work together and make it the best it can possibly be.”

Gatsas also announced funding for the Downtown Rail Trail and Rockingham Rail Trail projects. The Downtown Rail Trail project will improve connectivity to the downtown from South Manchester while the funding for the Rockingham Rail Trail project will connect Lake Massabesic to the Seacoast. The monies allocated in Gatsas’ FY2018 budget leverages $1.5 million in matching funds the city has received for developing the rail trail system.

In the Manchester School District Gatsas highlighted the success of Parker Varney Elementary School which was named as one of five schools in the nation to receive the innovation and change award and offered praise for the teachers and administration of the Manchester School District.

Mayor Gatsas highlighted the strides made by public safety officials and acknowledged the decrease in overall crime in the City of Manchester by 22 percent.

“Predictive policing combined with an increased complement has allowed us to have officers out on the streets proactively to prevent crime – and it is working,” said Gatsas.

Gatsas also praised the Manchester Fire Department, EMS providers and the treatment community for the progress they have made through the Manchester Safe Station program. Gatsas pledges continued support for the Safe Station program in FY2018.

“Through our CIP budget we will fund the Serenity Place WRAP program and the Helping Hands Safe Station respite program so we continue to keep the families of those struggling with addiction connected,” said Gatsas.

Mayor Gatsas’ FY2018 budget fully funds the 237 approved police complement and fully funds and maintains the coverage ratios for the Manchester Fire Department to ensure the public safety of Manchester citizens.

In accordance with the Manchester City Charter section 6.15 relative to the tax cap Mayor Gatsas’ budget proposal is inclusive of the 1.20 percent tax increase outlined in the voter approved tax cap. This represents approximately $2.4 million in additional spending over the previous fiscal year.

“When drafting this FY2018 budget you have before you this evening there were many additional facts that I had to consider,” said Gatsas. “A fact of this FY2018 budget is that our state retirement rates have increased significantly. There is a $1 million rate increase for the city and a $1.6 million increase for the schools. The $2.6 million increase alone exceeds the limitations of the tax cap.”

Gatsas also noted the $1.9 million fund balance that needed to be made up within the tax cap allocation and a 4 percent decrease in the state stabilization grants of $500,000 for the Manchester School District.

“I hope all of these facts, although not the only facts, as I present them to you, make it clear to the membership of this board, everyone sitting here in the audience this evening, and for those of you sitting at home, why it was imperative I bring this budget forward ahead of schedule. Our work can’t wait. Our work must begin well ahead of the timeline laid out in our city charter,” said Gatsas.

In the budget presented by the Manchester Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Vargas, last evening there remains a $5 million shortfall within the district budget. This shortfall is comprised of increases in salary, professional and technical services, health insurance and state retirement.

“The discussions we are having here in Manchester are similar to discussions taking place in communities across the state. That statement is not meant to make any of us feel better about the budget before you this evening, but to illustrate the absolute necessity for the state to begin a full review of education funding in the State of New Hampshire,” said Gatsas.

In addition to the decrease in the stabilization grants Gatsas cited the continued decline in Catastrophic Aid from the state to communities, “our costs continue to rise while aid from the state continues to decline.”

Relative to Kindergarten Gatsas said, “reading, writing and comprehension are the foundations for education and that connection begins in Kindergarten. Three-years ago Manchester began offering full-day public Kindergarten and it was absolutely the right, and necessary, decision for the children in our district – and we will never go back.” Gatsas continued, “in the Governor’s budget he provided grant funding for full-day Kindergarten programs based on ESL and free and reduced lunch. While I appreciate, and am thankful for this first-step, I believe that regardless of a child’s economic status, communities like Manchester, offering a full day Kindergarten program should be reimbursed for the full-day adequacy rate in the adequacy formula.”

Mayor Gatsas also presented his FY2018 Community Improvement Program (CIP) budget to the Board of Aldermen. Funding in the CIP budget comes from entitlement funds received by the city. In FY2018 the city will continue to make allocations towards municipal projects and continue support of nonprofit programming for over 20 agencies serving the Manchester community.

For capital expenditures Gatsas has continued funding for the Municipal Equipment Replacement Fund (M.E.R.) which includes funding for the purchase of a new pumper truck for the Manchester Fire Department, refuse collectors for the public works department, and cruisers and K9 transport vehicles for the Manchester Police Department.

Mayor Gatsas concluded his remarks by stating, “The budget is here before us and we must move forward. We must collectively come together, manage through this, and find solutions. This is a very tall task and if we are united in our resolve we will see our way through it.” Gatsas continued, “there is no place for politics in this discussion. The taxpayers of this great city elected us to govern and that’s what we must do. Let’s come together and let’s get to work finding solutions and making connections.”

Mayor’s FY2018 Budget Highlights:

Relative to the Tax Cap:

  •  1.20 percent increase – amount allowed under tax cap set forth in City Charter;
  • 1.20 percent generates approximately $2,476,092 in additional revenue.

Relative to the City of Manchester Municipal Spending:

  • Total city spend is: $150,958,073;
  • No layoffs in city personnel including emergency or non-emergency personnel;
  • Fully funds approved police complement of 237 officers;
  • Maintains complement and coverage ratios for Manchester Fire Department;
  • Fully funds the entire umbrella of the Public Works Department
  • State retirement costs increased by $1 million;
  • $1,990,782 of fund balance used in the FY2017 budget had to be made up in FY2018;
  • All city departments FY2018 funding levels were based on need and then reduced by .25%;
  • The Manchester Transit Authority subsidy is fully funded and will maintain all service routes.

Relative to Economic Development:

  • Allocated $1.5 million to repave and reconstruct Elm Street from Webster Street to the end past Queen City Avenue;
  • Funds $80,000 for completion of the Downtown Rail Trail connecting the South Manchester Rail Trail to downtown;
  • Funds $60,000 for the first-stage of the Rockingham Rail Trail which connects Lake Massabesic to the Seacoast;
  • The funds allocated for the Downtown Rail Trail and the Rockingham Rail Trail leverages $1.5 million in grant funding;
  • Continues to fund the INTOWN Summer Concert Program at the increased level of $18,000 brought forward in FY2016 and FY2017.

Relative to the Manchester School District:

  • Total school spend is $165,007,505. This is not inclusive of additional federal monies received by the Manchester School District;
  • A $5 million gap remains in the budget at the Manchester School District primarily comprised of $1.6 million in retirement costs, $1.3 million in contracted salary increases, $700,000 increase in health insurance costs combined with a decrease in revenue.

Relative to the Capital Budget including Road Reconstruction:

  • Continues to fund the proposed 5 year, $18 million investment in roads through the Annual Road
    Replacement Fund (A.R.R.F.). FY2017 A.R.R.F. funding is $3 million;
  • Continues $3.2 million in funding for Motorized Equipment Replacement Program (M.E.R.). M.E.R. includes funding for a pumper truck at the Manchester Fire Department, Police Cruisers, K9 vehicles and refuse collectors;

Relative to the Community Improvement Program:

  • Community Improvement Proposal (C.I.P) continues to fund municipal projects and over 20 local area non-profit agencies;
  •  Funds $150,000 for playground improvements at Rock Rimmon Park adjacent to the splash pad;
  • Continues city partnership with the Manchester Community Resource Program (MCRC);
  • Continues support for Manchester Safe Station by funding Serenity Place WRAP program and Helping Hands Safe Station Respite Program;
  • Through CDBG entitlement funding continues non-profit support for the Boys & Girls Club, City Year, Meals on Wheels program, the Girls at Work “Build Me Up” program, the Granite United Way BRING IT program and the Queen City Bike Collective to enrich the lives of Manchester youth;
  • Funds ADA improvements to our city sidewalks;
  • Continues to fund safety, code and enforcement initiatives within city departments.
    Please Note: A complete set of budget documents presented including the entire text of the Mayor’s FY2018 budget address this evening are available on the homepage of in the “Message from the Mayor” box.

Mayor Gatsas’ budget address, full remarks:

Supplemental budget documents:

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!