by Attorney Richard J. Lehmann
The Kurk decision is an important win for people concerned about fiscal sanity and public accountability. We’ve all seen town and school budget officials playing games with default budgets by artificially inflating the number. That makes their proposed budgets look better by comparison. The Kurk decision is the first time that a New Hampshire court has stepped in and said, “No, you have to follow the law.”
It is important that local government understand that they get to spend what the people decide to give them. They do not get to decide how much they are going to spend and then just take the taxpayers.
Also important in the Kurk case was overcoming the town’s attempt to get it thrown out due to lack of standing. Since the New Hampshire Supreme Court held in Duncan that citizens do not have a right to go to court to force their elected officials to follow the law. Standing is going to continue to be a massive hurdle to overcome in cases where taxpayers are trying to get their elected officials to follow the law. The Kurk decision shows that with the right approach, it is still possible.
Personally, I am proud to have been involved in this case. You can fight city hall. But if you are reading this, you already know that.