Parkway gaining; fire pact stalling

NASHUA – Two of the biggest issues that will face the board of aldermen this fall landed before the budget review committee Tuesday.

One was sent off to the full board of aldermen. The other isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The committee voted 5-2 to give its recommendation to a proposal to borrow up to $37.6 million to build the Broad Street Parkway. Now, the proposal is likely to go to the full board Sept. 23 for a vote, said Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy, the budget review committee chairman.

Voting with McCarthy to support the parkway proposal were Aldermen-at-Large Benjamin Clemons and Lori Wilshire, Ward 5 Alderman Michael Tabacsko and Ward 3 Alderman Michael Tamposi Jr.

Opposing the bond resolution were Alderman-at-Large David Deane and Ward 1 Alderman Mark Cookson.

Deane tried to kill the resolution by moving for indefinite postponement. “Wow. That went down in flames,” Deane said, feigning surprise after his motion died by 2-5.

Clemons said he “reluctantly” supports the bond. He said he fears it would break the city’s bank if it’s forced to return the $14 million in federal dollars the city has spent on the parkway project.

Clemons said he feels confident that by the city managing the project, instead of the state, the parkway wouldn’t impact the Tree Streets neighborhood so badly that it’s not recognizable.

It will take 10 votes to pass the bond when it goes to the full board.

The other big item, in terms of controversy, that the committee faced was the proposed firefighters contract. Last week, the board of aldermen re-referred the contract to the committee to clear up confusion over how much it would cost the city.

Despite an hour of discussion and poring over numbers by union representatives and the city’s chief financial officer, the committee still didn’t have a handle on the cost.

Aldermen questioned why the city calculated that the contract would create a budget shortfall of more than $600,000, while union calculations showed a shortfall of only $80,000.

The committee voted to hold the issue and asked Michael Gilbar, the city’s chief financial officer, for further analysis. McCarthy said he would call a budget committee meeting some time next week to discuss the contract further.

Also on Tuesday, the committee put its recommendation on a resolution that would authorize the mayor and city treasurer to borrow up to $4.5 million for repair work for the Hunt Building, 14 Court St. and the two Elm Street parking garages.

The bond would also include planning for a new public health building.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said no money would be spent until more analysis was done on each of the projects. She asked for the committee to support the resolution so that the various boards planning for the repairs would see they have support from the aldermen.