August 30, 2007

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Publisher's Note: Live toll free or die trying
By Jody Reese

Some in the town of Merrimack have launched a campaign against the tolls on new Route 3. These residents feel that the tolls cost them more than everyone else. And they’re right. But Merrimack residents also benefit more from the highway than residents of Milford or Derry. So why shouldn’t they pay more?

Because all of New Hampshire benefits from Route 3.

The traffic that travels through Merrimack brings business to Manchester, Bedford, Concord, Tilton, the Lakes Region and the North Country, to name a new of the beneficiaries. How can we put a value on the traffic from Massachusetts traveling up to Laconia bike week or to go skiing?

Tolls are a horrible way to fund highways. They punish local residents, slow down traffic and create state bureaucracy. Tolls are an easy cop-out for state politicians who love to claim they didn’t increase taxes.

But roads should be paid for by taxes because they benefit all, even those that never drive. It’s time to take down the tolls and spread the cost over everyone.

Bike week makes money
The city of Laconia reports that it made $55,000 from this year’s two-week event. That’s quite a change from previous years, when the town lost money. Of course, the goal of bike week is not for the town to make money, but for all of its businesses to make money. Nonetheless, it’s good to see the city make out. According to the Laconia Citizen the profit materialized because city departments lowered costs. They spent less on garbage collection, policing and other city service costs than expected.

The green city?
Currently nicknamed the Gate City, Nashua’s candidates for mayor are trying to out green each other. In a recent debate, many of the candidates offered up ways the city could help reduce the amount of energy city government and residents use. The debate was sponsored by a city sanctioned committee charged with finding ways to reduce energy consumption.

One of the key points, perhaps lost on many of the candidates, is that green is a great economic development tool these days. Going green can literately mean making green for a region.

In Manchester, the chamber of commerce recently got a huge response to setting up a committee to suggest ways for businesses to conserve. It’s the “in” thing. But Manchester’s elected officials — stuck in 1960s, it seems — haven’t any time for going green. Heck, Manchester’s elected officials don’t have time for libraries, street cleaning or downtown businesses crushed by the most efficient city department, parking enforcement.

Welcome Millrats
Manchester is adding a new sports team to the mix. The Millrats (which I mistaken thought were the Mallrats) are a minor league basketball team that will play against teams such as the Vermont Frost Heaves (no, I’m not kidding). The team’s home field will be at Southern New Hampshire University. The Millrates join the Freedom, Monarchs, Fisher Cats, Wolves and Phantoms in Manchester, New Hampshire’s sports mecca.