Below, we provide the entirety of Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas’ FY 2018 Budget Address as received without edits.  Budget documents released by the Office of the Mayor in conjunction with the presentation are found at the bottom of this posting~Publius

MANCHESTER, NH – February 14, 2017:  Good evening everyone, thank you for being here.  To the taxpayers of the Queen City watching from the comfort of your home, welcome!                                                                     

Before I begin I would briefly just like to thank everyone that has worked day and night over the past two days to keep our city roads clear to ensure the safety of our residents.  Everyone has really done an exceptional job.  I would ask that you please take that message back to your departments.  Thank you! 

As I thought back at my previous budget addresses and the work we have done here as a board, to help craft this evenings message, there was one continuous theme throughout them all – connection! 

In everything we do in this chamber, and in each budget we put forward, we strive to make a connection between City Hall and the citizens of the Queen City – and we have succeeded.  From brining quality summer entertainment to the downtown, keeping our promises when it comes to updating our city roads, and supporting public safety, these connections are valuable, they are meaningful and they are something we should all be proud of.  This evening with this FY2018 budget we will continue to make those connections. 

Once again, I must tell you how proud I am of our beloved Queen City.  I am honored and humbled to serve as your Mayor and be a small part of everything that Manchester has accomplished.  Thank you!

Since November I have been working with the City Finance Officer Bill Sanders and city department heads to craft a responsible budget.  This evening I deliver to you my FY2018 budget address six weeks ahead of schedule because it is imperative that we begin our deliberations, and work, as soon as possible.  The task ahead of us is very difficult but we must work to maintain the connections we have worked so hard to create and make new ones.


This evening I begin with infrastructure.  As a board we have always invested in the city’s infrastructure.  From our roads to our city buildings we have never put the improvements needed throughout the city on the backburner.  We are good stewards of our beloved Queen City.

Three years ago we established the Annual Road Replacement Fund and made a 5-year, $3million per year commitment to the taxpayers to fix city roads.  In this FY2018 budget before you this evening I have again allocated the $3 million dollars for the annual road repairs and reconstruction.

At the next regular meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen we will hear a presentation from the Department of Public Works about the progress they have made in the past year relative to our roads.  In your package this evening is a brief overview of the plans for FY2018.

This year, just as I have done in years past, I would ask this board to move this item expeditiously through committee, and back to the board for final approval as soon as possible.  What we have learned and I believe we can now refer to it as a best practice, is that when we accelerate this timeline we are able to go out to RFP sooner, lengthen our construction season and get the best pricing for the taxpayers. 

Continuing to invest in our infrastructure is responsible and it is building a lifetime connection to the city for our residents, visitors and future generations.


When it comes to Economic Development the Queen City continues to move forward.

By far, the most exciting development project to come to Manchester in the year ahead is Dean Kamen’s Advanced Regional Medical Institute – ARMI.  This is a $300 million dollar investment in a collaborative between Kamen’s DEKA, the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

The initiative could lead to the biological manufacturing of regenerative organs and it will happen right here in Manchester!

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. 

And when it comes to economic development in our city we have always been a partner in her growth.  This year will be no different.

In this FY2018 budget I have proposed two exciting economic development initiatives. 

First, in FY2018 I have allocated an additional $1.5million to pave Elm Street from the North End of Manchester, through downtown, and straight through to its end in South Manchester in Ward 9.  We will do this using the Municipal Transportation Improvement Fund within our general fund reserves.

Elm Street is Manchester’s Main Street.  It is t he thoroughfare to economic development in our city and up until the recent EPD project north of Webster Street Elm Street has remain untouched, virtually ignored, only to be opened for various utility projects significantly damaging the integrity of the road.

As we undertake this project we must do it 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. 

To insure that we realize our potential I will ask Chairman Long, the Ward 3 Alderman and Alderman Shaw, the Ward 9 Aldermen, to work with the Office of Economic Development and bring together a group of stakeholders including INTOWN Manchester, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, business owners, and other groups to work with the department of public works to develop the best possible plan for the Elm Street project.

Second, in FY2018, I have allocated funding for the rail trails:  the Downtown Rail Trail Connection Project and the Rockingham Rail Trail Project. 

$80,000 has been allocated from bond balances for the Downtown Rail Trail to improve connectivity to the downtown of the city’s rail trail and bike route system. 

This funding allows for the construction of an extension of the South Manchester Rail Trail where it crosses South Beech Street to where it meets at Queen City Avenue.  New sidewalks will be constructed, where none exist, to connect the South Manchester Rail Trail to the Riverwalk Trail extending through the downtown.

For the Rockingham Rail Trail I have allocated the necessary $60,000 for engineering that the team at Parks & Recreation has outlined they need in the first year of the three-year lifespan of this project.  Once completed, this trail will connect Manchester’s Lake Massabesic to the Seacoast.

Both of these allocations represent a portion of a twenty-percent match to grants that the city has received totaling nearly $1.5 million dollars– that is exceptional.  I would like to take a moment and recognize Todd Connors and Don Pinard for the work they have done to secure this funding that connects the Queen City to other communities and is a real benefit to economic development in Manchester.

Year after year, this team’s grants rank #1 compared to others across the state. Congratulations and thank you!

In this FY2018 budget there is continued funding for the INTOWN summer concert series.  Every year the success of this series continues to exceed expectations.  INTOWN successfully leverages the funding they receive from us with private sponsors.  Each year the series grows, the crowds get larger and Veterans Park is more vibrant because of the connection that the management at INTOWN has made with the greater Manchester community for quality summer entertainment in our parks.

Thank you to the team at INTOWN Manchester for their contribution to making this series a success!


Many exciting things continue to happen in our school district.  This past year my Alma Mater, Smyth Road Elementary School, celebrated its 60th Anniversary.  The education I received at Smyth Road set me firmly on my path for success – and today the teachers and administration at Smyth Road Elementary, and schools across our district, continue to do an outstanding job educating our future leaders.

Parker Varney Elementary School was one of five schools in the nation to receive the 2016 innovation and change award.  This award recognizes schools that embrace new and innovative strategies in their transformation from underperforming to exemplary.

And another Principal within our district, Shelly LaRochelle from Northwest Elementary received the Elementary School Principal of the Year award.  What an honor for her family, Northwest Elementary and the City of Manchester.

These are just a few of the highlights we have celebrated over the past year in the Manchester School District and in the year ahead there will be many more.  


When it comes to public safety the men and women of the Manchester Police and Fire Departments have truly gone above and beyond to make connections within our community.  It is this effort, and this quality about our police and fire personnel that sets them above, and apart, from everyone else. 

Two weeks ago Chief Willard gave a presentation to the Manchester Police Commission that overall crime in the city has gone down by 22%.

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.

However, there is one area, in particular that continues to rise and that is in aggravated assaults.  As you look at the statistics, and the trend, this rise follows the same trend as the rise of the heroin and opioid epidemic in our state.  For this reason, and many others, we must not relent in our efforts as we battle this epidemic.

The men and women of the Manchester Police Department have been on the forefront of this epidemic and they are making a difference.  They are leaders within the law enforcement community and they have started programs like Operation Granite Hammer which is removing drugs from our streets, and the Adverse Childhood Experience Response Team (ACERT) that is helping children who have been exposed to violence.  MPD has also partnered with DEA 360 which focuses on drug education and awareness programming for city youth. 

And to our leadership at the fire department Chief Goonan and Assistant Chief McGahey.  

On Chief Goonan’s first day on the job we rolled out the Safe Station program; a program that brought many partners throughout our city to work together as we battle this epidemic.  Hospitals, the treatment community, law enforcement, and emergency responders have come together to battle the epidemic.

They have saved lives, that have saved families and they have made progress. 

When I heard that Father’s Day was Safe Stations busiest day my heart sunk.  But I hate to imagine the heartbreak of the families of these individuals seeking help if they didn’t have Safe Station to turn to.

In the budget before you this evening 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.

This evening I will also extend my remarks about Public Safety to one additional department we don’t typically categorize under public safety, but I will start to.  I would like to recognize our Health Department led by our Public Health Director Tim Soucy.

As we battle this epidemic I have said on many occasions that this is a public health crisis.  When our public health is compromised our public safety is at risk.

Everyday Tim Soucy and his team are meeting and communicating with Chief Willard and Chief Goonan and it has made a real difference in the connection between our treatment providers and the law enforcement community.  It has saved lives.

Tim, to you and your team, thank you!


And now to the details of the budget before you this evening. 

Per city charter, the tax cap was set at 1.20%.  That rate is calculated as a result of the three-year average of the consumer price index urban.

Based on that rate in the budget presented here this evening there is approximate $2,476,092 additional revenue dollars available to spend for the city and the schools.

When drafting this FY2018 budget you have before you this evening there were many additional facts that I had to consider. For instance:

  • A fact of this FY2018 budget is that $1,998,782 of fund balance had to be made up that was applied in the FY2017 budget. At this time, there is no general fund surplus to offset this fund balance;
  • A fact of this FY2018 budget is that our state retirement rates have increased significantly. There is a $1million rate increase for the city and a $1.6million increase for the schools.  This $2.6 million increase alone exceeds the limitations of the tax cap;
  • A fact of this budget is that for the Manchester School District the state stabilization grant for education will again decrease by 4% in FY2018 that decrease is approximately $500,000;

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.

For the municipal side of the city budget city department heads were instructed to budget for FY2018 based on the needs within their department and from there they took a .25% reduction.  There are no layoffs for the city side of the budget and I look forward to working with the Aldermen to find new revenues to fund health insurance, severance and increasing our contingency.  

I have asked Chairman Long to make a motion, once the budget comes forward, that any fund balances that come forward for the first $100,000 be placed into the snow reserve account and the balance goes into the medical reserve account.

This FY2018 budget also makes no allocations for the costs associated with collective bargaining units, other than police, for steps, longevity, and COLA’s and this includes the cities non-affiliated employees.

For the Manchester school district this FY2018 budget makes up for an additional $1million in lost revenue.  With that addition of revenue there still remains a $5million shortfall which is primarily comprised of:

  • $1.3 million in contracted salary increases;
  • $1.1 million in professional & technical increases;
  • $700,000 of health insurance costs;
  • And the aforementioned increase in state retirement costs.

Last evening the Superintendent presented a budget to the Board of School Committee and as we all heard there is a $5 million dollar gap.  This makes the task ahead very difficult. 

The discussion we are having here in Manchester is 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. 

Year after year communities across the state face new challenges when it comes to educating our children, and this comes at a higher cost, however aid from the state has not followed.  This trend combined with the continued downshifting we continue to see from the state is making it increasingly difficult, not just for Manchester, but for all of the towns and cities across New Hampshire.

One such example is with Catastrophic Aid.  As the law is written today communities are reimbursed at a percentage of funds available within the state budget for costs three-and-a-half times above adequacy.  Last year Manchester received approximately 72% of our entitlement, the year prior we received 75% of our entitlement.  In your package this evening is a nine year look back at those reimbursements – the percentages are not increasing and our costs continue to rise while aid from the state continues to decline. 

Another example is Kindergarten.  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. 

When these children reach the first grade they know how to be students – they have better comprehension for both reading and writing.  This is true for all of our Kindergarteners, in all of our schools. 

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.  The School Board has taken this position and I would ask the membership of this Board to take the same position.

The Manchester School District must do things differently.  For many years there has been a lot of talk about redistricting and no action.  Once and for all the Board of School Committee must take a vote and allow our Superintendent to redistrict so we can make the best use of our facilities and finally have a true picture of what our space needs are.

Finally the Board of School Committee has asked this board for a budget ahead of the June deadline laid out in the City Charter. While it is certainly the will of this board to move the budget at your discretion I would hope that the request of the district is taken into consideration and presenting this budget ahead of schedule will help you meet that request. 


For our Community Improvement Budget beginning with CDBG our allocation is level funded.   With our entire allocation, plus program income, un-programmed funding, HOME, ESG and AHTF there is $2,689,464 available to fund requests. 

Projects operating through city departments will receive 59% of the funding and the remainder will go towards non-profit services.

Highlights for our CDBG funding this year include:

  • The previously mentioned funding for Serenity Place and Helping Hands to work with the Safe Station program as we battle the opioid epidemic;
  • New support for the Girls at Work “Build Me Up” program;
  • Support for the Meals on Wheels program provided by St. Joe’s Community Services;
  • Support for the Manchester Community Health Center Pediatric Clinic and Family Support services at Child and Health Services;
  • Continued support for programs benefiting city youth like the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester, the Queen City Bike Collective, the Salvation Army’s Kids Café, and the Granite United Way BRING IT program;
  • We continue our commitment to City Year NH a program that is making a difference in the lives of at-risk students in our elementary schools;
  • And we continue to support our refugee community by funding the Holy Cross Family Learning Center, and adult workforce development at the Manchester Community Resource Center.

This is an overview of the programs making connections that are supported through the cities community improvement CDBG program. 

With our HOME funds we will continue to support housing initiatives at New Horizons of New Hampshire and The Way Home. 

In Emergency Shelter Grants we will provide:

  • Support of the YWCA to provide services and shelter for women and children involved in domestic violence situations;
  • Support for Families in Transitions Emergency Housing and;
  • Support for the Child and Family Services Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.

Within the city departments using CDBG funds:

  • At the Police Department we continue our Weed & Seed Officer Support and MHRA Community Policing;
  • Within the Planning & Community Development Department there is continued funding for Code Enforcement Officers to ensure safe housing within the city;
  • Continued funding for the Parks & Recreation Fun-in-the-Sun program;
  • Also within Parks & Recreation I have provided $150,000 of CDBG funding for replacement of the Rock Rimmon Playground adjacent to the splash pad set to open this summer. This addition will create a safe place for children and families in the summer and a destination for visitors to our city and;
  • We continue to fund ADA improvements to our city sidewalks.

This is just an overview of all the important programming supported through our Federal Block Grants – the complete details are within your package this evening. 

Every single one of these program within the city and our non-profit community has a common thread – they all create and strengthen connections within our community. 

In this FY2018 budget we continue the Motorized Equipment Replacement Program or M.E.R. with the annual bond of $3.2 million.  Highlights from this allocation include:

  • A new pumper truck for the Manchester Fire Department;
  • Refuse trucks for the Highway Department to include trucks with the mechanical arms;
  • K9 transport vehicles for the Manchester Police Department and;
  • The matching funds for the federal grant to purchase new transit buses at the MTA.

This is the eighth year of our M.E.R. funding and it continues to work well for the city allowing departments to plan for future needs and equipment replacement.

Before I conclude my remarks this evening I would like to recognize the city department heads that have worked diligently with me to develop this budget.  They have always done what I asked of them with no complaints.  Each and every one of them is the best in their field and we are very fortunate to have them here in the city working on behalf of the taxpayers.  Thank you!

I would also like to personally thank our finance director for his help and guidance throughout this process.  But this year Bill, I am going to give more praise to your deputy – Sharon Wickens.

Sharon you have grown in your new role and you have helped me immensely with guidance and advice throughout this process.  You are a leader amongst the department heads.  You are the softer, friendlier, side of Bill Sanders, thank you!

This budget is difficult.  For many of you on this Board this is not the first time we have faced a difficult budget.  However, I hope we can learn from the past and put the taxpayers, our city, our departments, and our students ahead of politics so we can continue to make connections in our city and be the catalyst for others looking to make a connection.

Many votes have been taken in this chamber – valuable and meaningful arguments made on both sides.  While we may not always agree with our seat mates it is incumbent upon all of us to be respectful.

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.  In this process there is no place, and there is no benefit, to rehash old votes, point fingers, or say I told you so.

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.

Thank you everyone for being here this evening.  Let’s come together and let’s get to work finding solutions and making connections. 

Good evening and Godspeed.

FY 2018 Spending Summary

FY 2018 Supplemental Documents