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Former state supreme court justice tapped to assist with appeal of spending cap ruling in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

March 16. 2018 9:43PM
The Nashua City Hall Plaza. (Kimberly Houghton/File)

NASHUA — Two former aldermen are not giving up on their fight to preserve the city’s spending cap, and have hired a former Supreme Court justice to help with their appeal.

Fred Teeboom and Dan Moriarty have decided to appeal Judge Charles Temple’s ruling that dismissed their lawsuit against the city and deemed the city’s spending cap unlawful and unenforceable.

“We simply cannot allow the spending cap to expire with this seriously flawed decision,” the two men said in a statement.

They have hired attorney Chuck Douglas of Douglas, Leonard and Garvey who agreed to lead the appeal. Douglas is a former congressman and former New Hampshire Supreme Court justice.

“We expect to prevail and reinstate the city’s spending cap in full,” said Teeboom and Moriarty. Attorney Seth Hipple of Martin and Hipple law firm will continue as co-counsel.

They initially filed suit against the city last year alleging aldermen violated the city charter when they approved an ordinance that removed $9 million in wastewater funds from the general fund budget without a formal vote to override the spending cap.

However, Temple ruled last month that because the city’s spending cap does not contain an override provision, it cannot be enforced. As a result, the court dismissed the claims brought forward by Teeboom and Moriarty because there is no way for the court to redress the plaintiffs’ claimed injuries since the spending cap is not enforceable, meaning the plaintiffs have no standing.

“We cannot let our citizens down who voted, repeatedly, for frugal government. The spending cap, for over 24 years, has been an important barrier against the pervasive influence and greed of special interests,” they said of the appeal, acknowledging that it will be timely and costly.

This week, Mayor Jim Donchess presented his proposed $307 million fiscal year 2019 budget to aldermen, which is more than $1 million below the spending cap.

Donchess said earlier that despite the court’s ruling, the city will continue to watch the tax dollars carefully — with or without a spending cap in place.

“The tax rate is still the bottom line and we will proceed with the same kind of responsibility that we have in the past looking to the tax rate and the taxes the people in Nashua can afford,” he said.

Attorney Steve Bolton, corporation counsel for the city, said previously there was considerable confusion when the spending cap was originally adopted and eventually implemented in 1994.

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