Concord passes $66.5M operating budget

  • Concord City Council members discuss next year’s budget ahead of it’s adoption Monday night. CAITLIN ANDREWS / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/17/2019 10:45:19 PM

The Concord City Council passed a $66.5 million operating budget for next year Monday night after debating the importance of funding for the city’s New American organizations.

The budget represents a $1.4 million increase over this year’s budget. Two-thirds of the budget will be raised through property tax revenues, which are expected to go up by 2.6%.

The budget includes the second-lowest increase in the operating budget in the last six years, according to city data. In the last decade, city spending has gone up by $19.7 million or 70%. 

The budget, along with the city’s multi-million capital improvement project, passed unanimously with a few additions that barely budged the overall total. 

A conversation about whether to restore $5,000 to the New African Americans nonprofit drove most of the conversation after Ward 9 Councilor Candace Bouchard made a motion to add $5,000 into the budget.

The group, who provides educational and cultural programming for the city’s immigrant community, has previously said the loss of grant funding has strained its already shoestring budget. 

Mayor Jim Bouley said he thinks the city should offer programming space at its city-wide community center to similar groups, including the NAA, at no charge as a way to help them defray costs. He also said he did not want to “pick winners and losers” by choosing to fund one group over another.

But Bouchard said the NAA’s work, particularly with children, was too important to not fund for one more year.

“Frankly, our whole budget is picking winners and losers,” she said.

An addition $1 million was added for neighborhood road paving, which will come from a reserve account associated with Consolidated Communications’ (formerly FairPoint Communications) use of Concord’s right-of-ways, poles and conduits, along with a settlement reached this year in Merrimack County Superior Court.

The council also took $130,000 away from the capital improvements budget set aside for improvements to the Beaver Meadow Golf Course club house’s windows and bathrooms.

Mayor Bouley said he was not opposed to spending money on the club house, but said a facility needs assessment should be done at the building to understand how much work it really needs.

The $1.4 million increase in spending adds $227,000 for general infrastructure improvements, like additional paving and the operational costs of the White Park skate house and $70,300 in public safety investments.

It covers $942,000 in wage and benefit increases and $354,000 in additional debt services costs. The bulk of that new debt service comes from paying off the Concord City Wide Community Center and stormwater system improvements.

The budget is projected to raise the city’s portion of the tax rate by about 19 cents. That means an extra $50 on the tax bill for a house worth $250,000.

Perhaps the most significant capital improvements project is $650,000 set aside for the design and permitting of extending Storrs Street north to Constitution Avenue. It will be funded through the North End Opportunity Corridor tax increment finance district, according to city documents.

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