July 20, 2006

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Manchester Publisher's Note: State should help city
By Jody Reese

Manchester police now get an average of 300 calls a day, a dramatic rise over what the department had been getting.

The increase in calls has been keeping the department busy. Police Chief John Jaskolka attributes the increase in calls in part to Manchester becoming a regional destination. From concerts at the Verizon to games at Merchantsauto.com Stadium to the many bars and restaurants, more people are visiting the city.

All this is good news. But growth and progress has its costs, and in Manchester’s case that might include eventually expanding the police force.

The big question for the city is, who will pay for these extra costs?

In the recent revaluation, the tax burden continued to shift from commercial property to homes, even though the city has seen a dramatic rise in commercial property values. Unfortunately, that means anyone who lives in Manchester will pay more in rent or property taxes to pay more for these needed services.

Though in part that’s fair because we all use these new services, Manchester city government does need to find a new way to raise money from these visitors. And before Ward 2 Alderman Ted Gatsas says it, charging for Saturday parking is a bad idea.

Instead, the money should come from the state.

Right now, Manchester is sending truckloads of money to Concord in the form of restaurant taxes and lodging taxes and liquor taxes and other revenues.

But having made the investments necessary to produce this revenue stream, we’re not getting anything back to cover the costs associated with its upkeep.

Now that local boy Ted Gatsas is president of the state Senate, it’s time he used his influence to help his hometown rather than the general Republican Party agenda. Specifically, Gatsas should push for the state to make a yearly payment to Manchester to compensate it for the extra hotel, restaurant and alcohol revenue this city generates for the state.

Unfortunately, because Gatsas represents Bow and Hooksett — though he mostly represents himself, it seems — it’s unlikely he’ll do anything to help his home community.

Though we can’t count on Gatsas, our other elected officials should make an effort to get Concord to face reality. If the state doesn’t do its share to help Manchester, the golden goose may just stop laying all those eggs.

* * *

Speaking of gold, you’ll find it in theatrical form this weekend and next in Veterans Park in downtown Manchester, in this year’s Theatre in the Park production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

The four shows—two this weekend, and two next weekend—and free and open to the public. It’s a great way for the entire family to enjoy a night out under the stars without breaking the bank. And it’s good local entertainment, which makes the event very different from shows on the tube or movies at the multiplex.

This event, produced by New Thalian Players, is intended as a gift to the community. And with admission kept free, it surely is. Kudos to all the business leaders (full disclosure: HippoPress is a media sponsor) who stepped up to support it this year. I hope you’ll join me in Veterans Park for what’s sure to be a stellar evening in Manchester’s calendar of summer events.


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