To the Editor:
A Boston lawyer I was using for Land Court action once said to me: "Manchester is a wonderful town. I wish I could only afford to live there." It is true that our valuations are very high. Everybody would like to live here. It is uniquely the perfect town: several public beaches and public landings, a harbor, superior schools, a commuter rail, but still a small town with hiking trails in extensive wild areas. This high valuation results in a very low tax rate, of course, but one cannot judge the tax burden by that or valuation alone. One has to compare the actual tax amount for a comparable sized house and land in different towns. When you do that, it might surprise you. I've had people who have moved from towns out of state and in state say they found lower taxes here.
I think the reason for this is that we have a disproportionate amount of shore and harbor front with extremely high valuations and with their low usage of our public schools.
Our tax base is actually quite good. On top of extensive shorefront property, we already have a good proportion of commercial property in our tax base, much more that Essex, Wenham and, especially, Hamilton which is larger both in area and population.
We treat our commercial establishments well. We don't charge them a higher tax rate like Gloucester and we offer them extra services such as plowing their sidewalks. It seems as though we have enough commercial real estate. Thus, we can avoid the extra expense that some commercial property might entail and retain the pleasures of a small town.
George P. Smith, Manchester