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
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
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.