Publisher's Note: Cap my home value
By Jody Reese
Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta is spearheading the drive to pass tax cap laws in Manchester, Concord and several other southern New Hampshire towns.
While I’ve argued in the past that elected officials are the tax cap, this apparently doesn’t impress Guinta, an elected official. If you don’t like rising taxes, vote for the guy who promises to offer fewer municipal services. Since good-old-fashioned democracy seems to not be good enough for the mayor of Manchester, he’s supporting these tax caps to control out-of-control officials like him.
What the mayor and his tax cappers tend to forget in this debate over taxing is the spending part. Municipalities require money to hire police officers and teachers, fill pot holes and remove the snow. Those services directly affect your home value. Who really wants to live in a crummy town with crime, pot holes and lousy schools?
The question to ask is: What will be the impact to the city and property values by underfunding your municipal government? And make no mistake: capping taxes at a 3-percent growth (about the rate of inflation), which is what the tax cappers are pushing, would be a cut given that most town budgets are increasing at a rate of 5 percent annually fueled in large part by increases in health care costs.
So what’s wrong with cutting spending by 2 percent?
The math could work something like this: my taxes are about $4,000 a year, my home is valued at $237,000. I can expect my home value to increase 2 percent a year over the long haul – or $4,740 a year.
A five-percent annual increase in my property taxes is a $200 increase in my taxes for this coming year. If the tax cap were to limit that increase to 3 percent or $120, I’d save $80 this year.
But if crime rises or the schools further deteriorate and people don’t want to live in the town because of cuts in the city services and my home value only goes up 1 percent a year, I’d lose $2,370 per year in appreciated value. That $80 in tax savings would cost me $2,370 a year — not a very good a deal.
It’s not popular to say, but you’ve got to spend money on municipal services to increase home values. Where’s the real bargain for home owners? Is $80 a year worth the risk?
Disgusting and dangerous Manchester?
Compared to most American cities Manchester is remarkably safe. Manchester averages two murders a year. No crime is good, but in the real world Manchester is a very low-crime city. City-Data.com reports that Manchester had four murders in 2006, a rate of 3.6 per 100,000, whereas Boston, for example, had 75, or 13.3 per 100,000. On top of that, City-Data reports Manchester has far fewer police officers per 1,000 residents than most cities (1.83 compared to a national average of 3).
To be fair to Hillsborough Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson, who recently called Manchester “disgusting and dangerous,” I’m sure it can be very frustrating to come to work every day and deal with thugs, crooks and deadbeats. Viewing the city through its worst residents can easily jade you.