MANCHESTER, NH  May 15, 2024–After making multiple requests since March 29, Mayor Jay Ruais’ office released the line item detail of his budget proposal on May 14.  A review of that document discovered that Ruais’ budget increases property taxes by 4.42%; a figure that’s 15% higher than the 3.86% tax hike originally contained in his March 28 budget presentation.

Following the presentation, Ruais, whose campaign materials repeatedly promised to “support the tax cap,” “reduce spending” and “finally provide a tax cut,” released a statement that emphasized his proposed tax hike was “1.77% under the allowable tax cap” of 5.6%.

Confusing the issue, Ruais’ speech and follow up press release intermingled potential spending increases, based on requests from city departments and the school district, with the amount of new property taxes that could be raised under the tax cap.  For example, Ruais statement asserted:

“…the city was facing an 8.25% spending increase.  Ruais summarized the efforts to reduce spending by stating, ‘with a lot of hard work and tough decisions, we were able to cut that number down to 3.86%.'”

3.86% was actually the original tax increase contained in Ruais’ budget, not the increase in spending.  City spending went up by 4% in Ruais’ budget.  School spending went up by about half a percent.  The overall increase in spending is 1.92%.


In a review of the original budget documents presented by Ruais, Girard at Large noticed that the projected state adequacy aid for the school district hadn’t changed, despite the district projecting a $7.8 million reduction in that funding, due to declining enrollment in the district and it’s free and reduced hot lunch program.  In response to an inquiry about that item, Finance Officer Sharon Wickens sent a letter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen correcting the error, saying “There is no impact on the tax rate.”

Girard at Large sent several emails from the end of March through the middle of May requesting the line item detail of the mayor’s proposed budget; something that is customarily released in conjunction with the mayor’s budget presentation.  Once the document was released, 9 weeks later, the revised budget summary clearly contradicted Wickens’ statement asserting the changes didn’t affect the tax rate.

An email to the mayor’s office asking for an explanation or a comment from the mayor on the higher than originally presented tax increase, among other items, was not returned prior to publication of this article, which occurred more than 8.5 hours after the request.