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What’s the hurry? Spending Nashua’s surplus

September 17. 2018 5:20PM

A budget surplus is a good problem to have, and we give Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess almost full credit for handling it well.

But Donchess should have slowed down before spending $2.4 million on new projects.

Nashua aldermen had already reappropriated $1.7 million in surplus funds for approved projects that had been delayed. Last week, the board approved Donchess’s request to spend an additional $2.4 million on things not included in the budget.

A little over half of the money, $1.3 million, would go to the Capital Equipment Reserve Fund, but Donchess also asked for money for street planters, speed radar signs, and improvements to the aldermanic chambers. These could have waited.

Donchess wants to set aside $4.5 million in surplus to lower the tax rate, a wise move as the citywide revaluation will hit some Nashua homeowners with higher property tax bills. Why not reserve the entire surplus until we know the cost of the revaluation?

Politicians are easily tempted by surpluses, which let them spend money without directly raising taxes. But every dollar spent means a dollar unavailable in the next budget. Donchess gave in to this temptation, but only partially.


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