City passes budget removing parkway, adding police officers and library hours

  • The outside of the Concord Library's Penacook branch is shown. The Penacook Village Association will be holding a meeting on Tuesday for people to learn more about the library's future. Caitlin Andrews

  • Opponents of the Langley Parkway extension, some golf course supporters, packed City Council Chambers on June 2, 2022 for a finance committee meeting on the fiscal year 2023 budget. Cassidy Jensen

Monitor staff
Published: 6/10/2022 5:36:50 PM

Faced with rising costs of gas, groceries and utility bills, Concord residents will get no relief on their tax bills next year.

On Thursday night, the Concord City Council made a few adjustments before approving a budget that includes nearly $13 million in new spending and a 5% tax increase.

Mayor Jim Bouley acknowledged the tax increase is higher than it has been for the last three years, but applauded the fact that most of that increase will go to public safety.

“Yes, 4.8%, it is big. I will own that,” Bouley said. “However 2% of it going to a new ambulance, I can look myself in the mirror and live with that. I think that was the right decision for the community and I have no regrets whatsoever.”

Last-minute changes to the budget made Thursday included in the addition of two new police officer positions, some extra hours of operation for the Penacook library and the official end of the Langley Parkway extension project. The removal of items from the Capital Improvement Program brought the total budget close to $122 million for the next fiscal year.

The city’s general fund, which is raised through taxes, increased to $74.7 million, nearly $5 million more than what councilors approved last year. The city tax increase is expected to add about an extra $126 a year for a house valued at $300,000.

In a work session before the meeting, councilors made several last-minute budget changes, including allocating an extra $150,000 to fund two new police officer positions for nine months.

“We have an excellent department, we have an excellent response, but the fact is that the calls for service are becoming more and more,” Bouley said. “There’s a need for those two additional bodies on the street.”

While estimated police calls for service are 53,080, a 17% increase over 2021, calls for service remain lower than they were in 2015 when the department received 58,181 calls.

The budget includes $18.5 million in spending on capital improvement projects. In the work session before the meeting, councilors agreed to add $50,000 in capital spending for an interactive police simulator and $60,000 for a forensic laser scanner, which had been slated for the 2025 budget.

Concord’s 2023 budget also includes $300,000 in capital improvement plans for a new Fire Department ambulance and $841,000 in the operating budget for a four-person ambulance crew for nine months, plus paying for overtime costs and upgrading the certifications of 14 emergency medical technicians to Advanced EMTs.

The Penacook branch of the Concord Public Library will soon be open for an extra five hours a week after councilors voted on a proposal brought by Ward 5 Councilor Stacey Brown to allocate $12,343 to hire two new part-time library personnel. The Penacook branch is currently open five hours a week on Thursday afternoons.

Councilors also opted to move several capital improvement projects up on the timeline, including moving funds for White Park’s Monkey Around Playground replacement from 2024 to 2023 so the work could happen at the same time as the park’s splash pad installation.

Councilors made the decision to eliminate the Langley Parkway extension project from the city’s future capital spending plans, canceling the proposed 2.25-mile road extension from Pleasant Street to Rumford and Penacook Streets. The motion authorized the City Manager to negotiate the release of the City’s property rights in the area. Although no funding for the Langley project was proposed in the 2023 budget, there were construction funds slated for the 2024 and 2026 budgets.

Councilors debated the importance of access routes for emergency vehicles and the project’s potential development opportunities, before deciding to eliminate it. The decision came after a public meeting earlier this month where a group of city residents from the Concord Greenspace Coalition packed City Council Chambers calling for the project to be nixed.

“I think regardless of what future councils do, this council should be responsive to what the community has asked, which has been a pretty unified response that they don’t want us to move forward with it,” said Ward 10 Councilor Zandra Rice Hawkins.

In the work session, Rice Hawkins proposed removing the $490,000 allocated to redesign Beaver Meadow Golf Course’s clubhouse and parking lot and pushing the item to 2025, saying that some of Beaver Meadow’s funding should come from citizen fundraising as Concord Skatepark was required to do. However, the proposal was voted down by other councilors.

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy