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January 22. 2013 10:09PM

Wilton, Lyndeborough seek help from courts to sort out $141,000 error

LYNDEBOROUGH - There's a friendly lawsuit between Wilton and Lyndeborough over an $141,000 allocation error made by the Department of Education, and if all goes well in court, Lyndeborough will soon be paying Wilton the money both sides agree the town owes.

In 2010, the Department of Education mistakenly allocated the wrong proportion of Wilton-Lyndeborough School District expenses to Wilton, charging that town $141,000 more than it should have, said Wilton's attorney Silas Little. But the mistake wasn't caught until 2011 when the spring tax rates were set.

By then, said Kevin Boette of the Lyndeborough Board of Selectmen, it was too late for the town to simply pay Wilton back.

"We couldn't just allocate money from the taxpayers to refund the money without voter approval," Boette said.

Getting voter approval at Town Meeting in 2013 to pay off a debt from 2010 came with some legal questions for the town's attorney, William Drescher, Boette said. Another concern Drescher raised was what would happen if the question were put to Lyndeborough voters to allocate the funds, but the voters refused.

Because of the possible legal tangles, Drescher advised that the answer might be best arrived at by a judge, and though Little said he believes there still may be a way to settle the matter out of court, a lawsuit was filed by Wilton against Lyndeborough at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua.

"Both towns agree that Lyndeborough owes Wilton the money," said Boette. "We just need the court to sort it out."

Little said the towns and the Wilton-Lyndeborough School District have all been named in the suit to ensure that all of the appropriate parties are participating. Though the initial paperwork has been filed at superior court, it could be several months before the towns go before a judge. In the meantime, Little said he's hopeful a settlement can be reached out of court.

But Boette said that no matter how the conclusion is reached, his goal is to ensure that Wilton and Lyndeborough stay on good terms.

"We're neighbors, we share resources, we work well together," he said. "There are no fist fights happening here. This is an amicable lawsuit."

nfoster@newstote.com

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