Hippo Manchester
August 11, 2005

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The truth about the bars
by Jody Reese

Ward 3 has taken a pounding lately. First the mayor says the nightlife there is out of control and then the Union Leader makes it a pet project, writing almost a dozen articles on Ward 3 nightlife to urge city government and the New Hampshire Liquor Commission to do something about an increase in police calls and violence.

Problem is there is no problem. There is no epidemic of police calls to downtown bars.

How do I know that? Itís in black and white right on the cityís own website.

Every year, the police department issues a report of police calls in each ward. The last three years (2002, 2003, and 2004) have been posted. The reports show the number of calls in Ward 3 has stayed exactly the same over the past three years, at about 25 percent of all city calls or 25,000 calls a year (this includes almost 6,000 motor vehicle stops).

Thatís right, even though the number of bars and restaurants in that same period has increased the calls did not. The only conclusion that can be reached is that the bars are not adding an extra burden to our police department. There is no problem, no upswing in violence, no out-of-control nightlife.

Itís all bunk.

Unfortunately that has not stopped city government and the state Liquor Commission from rallying their forces to stamp out nightlife. Local bars and restaurants have reported to me that city inspectors and Liquor Commission officers have been making numerous unannounced visits, sometimes all on the same night.

This crusade is counterproductive to the growth of this city. Do you think any company would have built an apartment building at the corner of Bridge and Elm without all the bars and restaurants downtown? Of course not. Take the Chase Building as an example. City government helped make money available to get it rehabbed, and happily leased the bottom floor to Margaritas, a bar.

Then there is the tax impact of these bars. Many pay as much as $10,000 a month in rent, directly contributing to the tax base. Taxes on commercial property are based on rents that tenants pay. The higher the rent, the higher the taxes. Take those bars away and Manchesterís tax base will get smaller, meaning homeowners will have to pay higher taxes.

So whereís the downside? Successful bars mean we pay less in property taxes. These bars donít cost the city extra tax money in terms of police calls. These bars help rehab old buildings and make the downtown look better.

Keep your taxes down; support your local bar or tavern.