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Former alderman may appeal court decision rendering Nashua spending cap unenforceable

Union Leader Correspondent

March 09. 2018 8:46AM
The Nashua City Hall Plaza. (Kimberly Houghton/File)

NASHUA — After a judge denied a request to reconsider his ruling in the city’s spending cap lawsuit, a former alderman says he is considering appealing the decision, especially since Nashua’s spending cap is now unenforceable.

“I haven’t ruled it out,” Fred Teeboom, said on Thursday — one day after Judge Charles Temple of Hillsborough County Superior Court denied Teeboom’s request for reconsideration.

Last month, Temple ruled 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 former Alderman Dan 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.

“Of course there is this gray area now,” Teeboom said of the spending cap; Temple’s ruling stated that he would not strike down the spending cap even though it violates state law. “A case like this is very upsetting,” added Teeboom.

Teeboom and Moriarty filed the lawsuit 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.

“As a result of the lawsuit filed by Mr. Teeboom, the cap was invalidated by the court. So, as of now and into the future, there is no operative cap in the city unless there is an appeal or a successful appeal,” Mayor Jim Donchess recently explained to the Board of Aldermen. “But that doesn’t mean we will wildly spend money or change our fiscally responsible ways in any respect.”

Donchess said his proposed upcoming budget will be fiscally responsible despite the court’s ruling, adding 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,” said the mayor.

Teeboom has already spoken with an attorney about the possibility of appealing, although he has not yet made a formal decision. Even if he does not appeal, Teeboom said aldermen should still require an override vote if city officials adopt a budget that exceeds the spending cap.

The legality of the spending cap, as well as the plaintiffs’ standing was never litigated throughout the course of the lawsuit, maintains Teeboom.

“The court has not overlooked or misapprehended any points of law or fact in its order,” Temple stated in his recent ruling denying the motion to reconsider. Teeboom has 30 days to decide whether to appeal to the state’s highest court.

Moriarty’s attorney also filed a motion for reconsideration, but that was denied as well. Moriarty claims that Nashua’s spending cap is still legal, saying fact and direct logic should prevail over opinion and indirect logic.

“Nashua citizens deserve to have facts of law upheld over opinion and politics,” he said.

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