Lawsuits could determine budget future

NASHUA – Two lawsuits filed against the city that could derail the proposed budget for fiscal 2018 are waiting for a judge’s decisions on whether to allow the cases to continue.

Alderman Daniel Moriarty and former Alderman Fred Teeboom filed separate lawsuits against the city over what they say is a violation of the city’s spending cap. In both cases, the city’s attorney, Steve Bolton, has filed a motion to dismiss, saying the lawsuits are premature.

The spending cap, and the use of an ordinance to make an accounting change, lies at the heart of both lawsuits. Aldermen voted 9-6 earlier this year to change the way the wastewater enterprise fund is dealt with under the budget. That change affected the spending cap, creating about $9 million of space under the cap.

Prior to this ordinance passing, the 2018 budget would have come in over the cap. It would have required 10 votes on the Board of Aldermen to override the limits set by the spending cap, under the terms of the city charter.

Moriarty and Teeboom contend the wastewater ordinance was an illegal maneuver to get around the 10-vote requirement to override the cap.

Bolton’s motions to dismiss the cases states that the lawsuits are based on hypothetical situations, since aldermen have yet to adopt a budget for the coming fiscal year, and there has been no consequence yet to the wastewater ordinance.

Moriarty’s attorney, Seth Hipple, wrote in his objection to the motion to dismiss that there is no need to wait.

“The court need not and should not wait until the damage of the Mayor’s scheme is done,” he wrote.

Teeboom and Moriarty have filed motions seeking injunctions against the city from proceeding with the budget process. Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Charles Temple is still considering both of these cases, and he has indicated he may consolidate them into one case.

While Teeboom has had a hearing on the motion to dismiss and the motion for an injunction, Moriarty’s case has not. Temple said in court that he plans to expedite his ruling in Teeboom’s case. That ruling, whatever it may be, is likely to have an impact on Moriarty’s case, as well.