DERRY — Town councilors approved the municipal fiscal year 2021 total budget at a meeting May 5, with officials saying they will keep a close eye on the town's financial situation in the months ahead.
A final $51.6 million total budget number was approved, with Town Administrator David Caron noting that numbers may fluctuate in the coming weeks as the coronavirus continues to bring potential financial hits to Derry and other communities around the state.
"We expect to have recommendations beyond this meeting," Caron told councilors. "We know we will have some adjustments."
Those adjustments may come as the town keeps watchful eye on revenues and other projects and spending already in the pipeline.
Caron also reported that Derry, along with other municipalities will qualify for federal support through the CARES act, with money being made available to help communities affected by the coronavirus.
Derry could seek reimbursement up to $785,000 to be used for projects and other efforts directly related to the virus including technology costs for remote meetings, signs, or computer equipment.
In other council business, officials got a COVID-19 update from fire Chief Michael Gagnon, who offered updates on the town's operations and how the community was faring during the pandemic.
Gagnon addressed the virus numbers and also told councilors he was well aware of recent reported spikes in cases and deaths at one local nursing facility, Pleasant Valley.
"We knew that was happening," the chief said. "Nursing homes are a very vulnerable population and it's a terrible situation that's going on there."
Gagnon added that about half of Derry's cases are in long-term facilities.
The chief said testing capabilities in the state have also ramped up and that's a good sign for finding out where hot spots may be and how to deal with them.
Gagnon said it's ever important to continue to keep the messaging out to the public about the dangers of the virus and what needs to be done to remain safe.
Councilor Jim Morgan said maybe the public is becoming a bit "desensitized" to the pandemic and he hopes people continue to take guidance and precautions seriously.
Gagnon said people need to wear masks and continue to follow the social distancing guidelines. If and when businesses are beginning to open as per the state's orders, he said his department would make sure things were done safely.
"I'm seeing people without masks," he said, "and that's baffling and concerning."