$258M budget goes through

Proposal gets minimum 10 votes required

Staff photo by DAMIEN FISHER Mayor Jim Donchess and Nashua's CFO John Griffin discuss the $258 million budget at last week's budget hearing.

NASHUA – The $258 million city budget passed by a 10-5 vote of the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night.

Aldermen Mark Cookson, Daniel Moriarty, Donald LeBrun, Sean McGuinness and David Schoneman opposed the budget on a night it needed 10 votes to pass, although the board made some changes before the final vote.

“There’s a lot of fat in this budget,” Moriarty said.

First, the board adopted a Budget Review Committee amendment that eliminated Mayor Jim Donchess’ proposal to use $200,000 for a citizens participatory budget program and instead added that money to the the Police Overtime Fund.

“We’re short on staff, but we’re not short on crime,” Ward 9 Alderman Ken Siegel said.

Adding the money to the police overtime fund meant the budget required a 10-vote majority to override the city spending cap. The city is currently being sued by former Alderman Fred Teeboom, as well as Moriarty, for allegedly violating the cap. The lawsuits were filed before a vote on the budget was taken.

The board also eliminated a proposal to add $191,000 to pay for software maintenance for the city communications department. While knowing it is a needed expense, board members felt it could be paid for in a different way once more study has gone into the matter.

Donchess said the budget focuses on keeping the police and fire budgets fully funded, and to make sure there was enough to expand full-day kindergarten to all 12 Nashua elementary schools.

Ward 6 Alderman Ben Clemons said he initially wanted to vote against the budget after the School District cut staff even though the budget added funding to the schools to avoid layoffs.

“I think that is going to be to the detriment of the schools,” Clemons said.

However, because of the pending lawsuits, Clemons decided to vote for the budget to make sure it got the needed 10-vote majority.

“Should (the lawsuits) prevail, we could be in for hundreds of layoffs,” he said.

The exact impact Tuesday night’s vote will have on the Moriarty and Teeboom lawsuits is unknown. Superior Court Judge Charles Temple denied the city’s request last week to dismiss the lawsuits based on the fact that no vote had yet been taken. Teeboom and Moriarty argue in court that the spending cap was violated prior to any budget vote having occurred.