The courtroom tax ratchet attempts to crank out another injustice for voters and taxpayers.
Here is how it works in Brentwood.
The Brentwood Budget Committee looked over the proposed new school budget and made $650,000.00 in sensible adjustments, as budget committees are supposed to do. The adjustments were downward not upward (That is called “slashing” in the papers.) so in comes the lawyer for the tax and spend school district officials hoping a judge will restore the endless rise in spending at the school.
The attorney arguing this case is the notorious Barbara Loughman who will say anything in court to grab more spending and less control by voters past a judge.
I took Loughman on in SAU 34 in 1996 regarding a petitioned warrant article I submitted, and beat her, so I know how she works.
Attorney Loughman is arguing that the Brentwood Bud Com did not create the budget with due diligence by going through it line by line. Loughman argues it should be thrown out by a court and the adjustments restored.
What right does some lawyer have to say how an elected budget committee should work? Where in RSA 32, the statute that allows voters to establish a budget committee, say they need a record of line by line decisions to prepare a budget?
Now is a good time to take a look at Litchfield a few weeks ago where Attorney Loughman’s firm, Soule Leslie Kidder Sayward and Loughman, argued that the elected Litchfield School Clerk, who would not sign a proposed budget until he saw the spread sheet that went with it, had no say in the process. Her firm argued that the elected clerk has no right to see the spread sheet used to create the bottom line of the school district budget he is required by law to sign.
The statute regarding the elected school district clerk, RSA 197:20, says the clerk shall keep a “true record” of all meetings. All the Litchfield School District clerk wanted was to have the record, the spread sheet he knows they have and the one Loughman now demands in Brentwood, in hand before he signs off on the proposed budget.
Surprise, even the Right to Know Law aside, the judge agreed. The elected clerk was forced to sign a bottom line budget with no backup information everyone knows exists. There is a true record for you.
Any argument in a storm of spending will do for Attorney Loughman.
As long as the tax ratchet clicks up and not down and as long as a willing judge can add money to municipal budgets over the heads of state laws, elected officials, and voters her firm will continue this sneaky game.
If you are a NH taxpayer and have any say in what law firm your municipality uses you would do everyone a favor by kicking this crowd to the curb.