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Gate City Musings: Kudos, boos and award for backtracking

April 07. 2013 10:23PM

Gate City Musings, a column on City Hall happenings and other Nashua items, is published every other Monday. It is written by a veteran political observer whose identity is known to the editors but who wishes to remain anonymous, and breathing.

Kudos to Ward 9 Alderman Dan Moriarty for his stand on casino gambling in the Granite State.

Boos to Her Highness the Mayor for her stance in opposition in spite of the fact that surveys show the majority of New Hampshire residents want our state lawmakers to at least consider this revenue source.

The Musings award for "backtracking" goes to Nashua Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christopher Williams for his wishy-washy position in spite of the fact that the Nashua Chamber endorsed casino-type gambling just a few years ago.

Why shouldn't the Board of Aldermen pass a nonbinding referendum at this fall's city election to see just how much support our voters have to offer on the subject?

Would Her Royal Highness veto such legislation?

Time will tell.

The recent New Hampshire House vote to pass an increase in the gasoline tax will face real hurdles in the state Senate in spite of Nashua Rep. David Campbell's herculean work for its passage in the world's third largest legislative body.

Congratulations to the very few Nashua legislators who voted no. And obviously a pat on the back to the Senate where reason prevails.

Whatever happened to "No New Taxes" folks?

Guess we won't see former state senator Gary Lambert at former house speaker Bill O'Brien's picnic this summer. These "formers" are itchin' for a go at the 2nd Congressional District seat presently being held by "Dancin' Annie Kuster." Odds heavily favor Lambert if it's a two-person race. Should others jump in, including Mayor Donnalee Lozeau and a couple of dark horses, the odds could change.

Cotton Mill Square developer John Stabile's project on Front Street, near the entrance to the Mill Yard, is looking for another $300,000 boost from the city to convert a historic cotton warehouse into 109 units of mixed-income apartments.

Legislation currently making its way through the alder-maniac (excuse me, aldermatic) chambers, would approve allocating $300,000 of the city's HOME Affordable Housing Development funds it receives from the federal government toward the Front Street rehabilitation project.

When ultimately completed, this $26 million project will (get this) cost city and government millions of dollars, including $10 million in historic and low-income housing tax credits, $2.2 million of Nashua and New Hampshire HOME funds, $1 million Community Development Finance Development Authority state tax credits, $600 million in EPA loan funds, and only $1 million in Stabile Company equity.

"Of course, since most of these dollars are state and federal in nature, naturally we must spend them because we don't want them to expire," said one Mrs. Alderman.

How many times have we heard elected officials say since federal funds are involved then we must spend them?

It's getting pretty close to crunch time for the Board of Education's budget. Will our steadfast School Board fold under the Mayor's edict or will they stand their ground only to find out that the mayor with aldermanic and public support (with the exception of the unions) have the final say?

The school operating budget this year tops $230 million, which makes it 40 percent of the total city's operating budget. Is there any wiggle room for our city fathers and mothers as they debate the final budget?

Of course there is, but it will be up to those fiscally conservative aldermen such as Mark Cookson, David Deane, Barbara Pressly, Arthur Craffey, Paul Chasse and Daniel Moriarty to really sharpen their pencils.

Don't look for such action from the big-spender, pro-school board aldermen such as Jim Donchess, Lori Wilshire, Brian McCarthy, Richard Dowd, Diane Sheehan and Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja when it comes to cutting the school budget.

It's worth a telephone call or e-mail to your alderman and those somewhat fiscally conservative members such as Michael Tabacsko, Kathy Vitale and June Caron urging them to hold the line and support the mayor.

Don't forget that the city budget again this year tops previous budgets. There's always room for reductions in spite of the unions and their supporters.

Remember ... if you have a subject, complaint or praise about what our city officials are up to or you have a suggestion for "kudos," email them to Musings would love to hear from you.

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