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Taxes and sausage: A problem in Nashua

Building sidewalks is hard, draining work. Crews get hungry. In Nashua, they have satisfied this hunger by charging restaurant meals to the taxpayers. How nice.

Nashua is renovating the sidewalks on a portion of Main Street downtown. This summer, the crews doing that work sometimes popped into The Sausage King, bought lunch, and billed the public. The taxpayers bought nearly $1,500 worth of Sausage King meals for these city employees, with all of the expenses approved by another city employee.

Mayor Donalee Lozeau said this week that the employee who approved the lunch purchases has left the city’s employ, but was not fired. The city is reviewing other approved expenditures and the approval procedures. The former employee faces no discipline or punishment because apparently no law or policy was broken. And therein lies the real story.

Why does Nashua have an expense-approval system in which taxpayers could shell out so much money to fill the bellies of city workers with sausages? Buying meals for employees who are not traveling out of town on city business is a questionable practice. Having lax rules to govern those purchases is beyond questionable; it is unacceptable.

In context of the entire city budget, $1,500 might not seem like much money. But it represents a large chunk of someone’s property tax bill. Municipalities (all governments, in fact) have a duty to see that no taxpayer money is wasted. That is hard to do without good rules governing the expenditure of all city funds.

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