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Tight budgets in Nashua: Plenty of money for arts center

February 06. 2018 11:31PM

Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess is being awfully tight-fisted.

Donchess sent a memo to city department heads asking them to keep their budget requests for Fiscal Year 2019 within 2 percent of this year.

Well, not all departments. He suggests the school draft a budget with no more than a 2.1 percent increase. Superintendent Jahmal Mosley has already presented a preliminary $110 million budget, which would be a 3.4 percent increase.

Donchess is recommending a 2.5 percent increase for fire, police, and public works. But everyone else, 2 percent, tops!

Of course, even this limited fiscal discipline only applies to the FY19 budget. It does not include borrowing $15.5 million to turn an empty shoe store into an arts center.

Taxpayers will be stuck paying off that bill for decades after last week’s unanimous vote by Nashua aldermen to proceed with Donchess’s arts boondoggle.

Arts center backers have to raise $4 million to fill a private endowment to fund the arts center’s operations before the bonds will be issued.

Paying back those bonds will put an even tighter squeeze on Nashua budgets in the coming years. Meanwhile, Nashua will be taking a prime commercial property off the tax rolls.

Fiscal discipline comes not just from tightening a few belts while drafting the budget. It grows from responsible spending and borrowing decisions over the long term.

Local and County Government Editorial Nashua

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