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City: Save windfall

Laconia to be conservative with $840,118 revenue

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers has a strong feeling about being fiscally conservative and not using one-time revenue for ongoing expenses.

That's why he is recommending that much of an $840,118 windfall the city is realizing should be placed in reserve funds, instead of being spent on ongoing expenses like adding employees or embarking on more new projects.

“The priority is to use recurring funds for recurring expenses,” he said Wednesday in explaining his budget proposal. “You want sustainable, predictable budgeting; revenue streams and expenses that are predictable.

“If you use one-time revenue for operational expenses, you get into yo-yoing. That would not be a prudent way of managing.”

That $840,118 can be found in a miscellaneous category of revenue in the 168-page spending plan Myers has produced.

His proposal is subject to change. Representatives of various city departments will appear before the City Council in coming weeks to make their budget requests. The budget process will stretch over the summer before the council approves a final plan.

The windfall results from the return of a $238,000 overpayment the city made to the Concord Regional Solid Waste Cooperative and a sale of property in the amount of $508,000.

The city currently leases the property near the intersection of Union Avenue and Elm Street to Lakeport Landing. It will be selling it to Irwin Marine.

Instead of spending the money right away, Myers is suggesting placing much of it in a contingency, or reserve fund. Last budget, $100,000 was put in the contingency fund.

His new spending plan calls for placing $583,000 in this fund. Another $100,000 is to be placed in a non-capital reserve fund.

Mayor Ed Engler said the City Council generally agrees with Myers' prudent approach.

“Philosophically, you could take all that money and spend it on salaries, and that would work this year, but what would you do next year?” he said.

He also said that as the City Council gets further into the budgeting process, it may consider using some of these excess funds for capital outlays not funded in the city manager's budget.

Myers is recommending $2.18 million in capital projects, with $1.55 million of that amount going to street repairs, $125,000 for citywide drainage improvements, $95,000 for Union Avenue retaining wall repairs and $100,000 for a radio tower upgrade.

Left unfunded in his proposal is a $60,000 request for an upgrade of the north end of the Weirs Boardwalk, $100,000 for Court Street reconstruction and $140,000 for Messer Street Bridge rehabilitation.