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MOUNT SOMERS ROAD BOARD.

(per pigeon post.) The adjourned annual meeting was held at Mount Somers yesterday. The meeting had been advertised for the schoolhouse, but owing to repairs now going on there, Mr. D. Henderson kindly placed his new store at the disposal of the public, and the meeting was held there. A private meeting was previously held at Morgan’s store, for the purpose of initiating matters for the meeting. At noon there were about 25 ratepayers present, and W. 0. Walker, Esq., having taken the chair, read his statement as follows ; —The school being under the control of the Board of Education, they were compelled to hold the meeting in Mr. Henderson’s store. The following financial statement had been prepared : Total Expenditure. Wards. New Roads. Other Works. No. 1 447 11 8 135 10 9 2 1018 8 G 1098 2 11 3 1981 0 8 426 9 0 4 3072 5 0 21 16 0 5 2502 9 7 186 8 6 £9621 15 11 £IB6B 7 2 Incidental and general expenses ... ... ... 1178 19 6 Total ... £12,669 2 7 Return of Work Done. Formation of roads... 38 miles 76 chains Re-formation do ... 33 ~ ,, Ditching ... ... 24 ~ 30 ~ Shingling ... ... 7 ~ 36 ~ Stone picking ... 19 ~ 00 ~ Cutting ... ... 57,684 yai’ds. Receipts and Expenditure for the Year ending Dec. 31, 1879. Jan. 1, 1879. Receipts. Balance at Bank ... ... 4,132 17 10 Rates ... ... ... 558 4 9 Grant from County Council 1,193 2 11 Interest on fixed deposits... 1,068 13 11 ~ current account 22 10 7 Fixed deposit matured ... 15,000 0 0 Half subsidy on rates collected 154 12 10 Grant from County Council for tree planting... ... 91 12 0 Unpresented cheques ... 133 7 3 Overdraft at Bank ... ... 475 17 4 £22,830 18 7 Expenditure. By new roads ... ... 9,621 15 11 ~ other works ... ... 1,868 7 2 ~ incidental and salary ... 1,178 10 6 Sept. 10— Fixed deposit at 3 months 2,000 0 0 „ „ 6 „ 2,000 0 0 „ „ 6 „ 2,000 0 0 ~12 ~ 2,000 0 0 ', 12 ~ 2,000 0 0 Dishonored cheque... ... 39 0 0 Deposit cheques ... ... 76 0 0 Cheques paid for 1878 ... 46 10 0 £22,830 18 7 The Chairman hoped the report would be satisfactory, as under the circumstances of last winter it was thought judicious to spend a larger sum than would otherwise have been done, owing to the depression in financial affairs. In reply to Mr. Tisch, the Chairman said that the amounts did not include existing contracts. The culvert by W. Smith’s was not yet passed and the contractor had to pay for the material. Mr. Tisch considered this statement wrong, as the agent for Messrs. Montgomery and Co. had informed him that the Board paid for it. Mr. Tisch also wanted to know why a certain contract of L2OO had been let privately. It was stated that the job had been lot to Mr. A. Macfarlane. The Chairman replied that the Board had let the work to Victor Soland. In reply to a ratepayer as to the distribution of money to the various wards, the Chairman said the Board had endeavored to spend the money with a view to give access to all parts of the district, and to make all the roads with an eye to utilize the railway system now being initiated ; he was unaware of any district having been unfairly treated ; the Gorge road, he had insisted upon being made as it was done with a view to future requirements. Mr. Craighead asked. the amount of rateable property in each ward. The Chairman said the following were the values ; £ s. d. Wards. No. 1 5211 13 4 2 5804 4 1 3 6268 0 0 4 11,794 22 5 7077 14 0 Total, £30,815 13 7 Mr. Tisch asked what tho Board intended doing with contractors who were absent from their work for months at a time on the maintenance of roads. The Chairman replied that no money had been paid to tho contractor for maintenance. Mr. Tisch considered that, the contractor should be made to put the roads in good order according to his contract. Mr. Morgan asked to see tho vouchers for a payment of L 320, Mr. Craighead asked for a statement of the rates collected during the past year, and the amounts still due. In reply to Mr. Morgan, the Chairman said he could see no useful purpose to be achieved by supplying tho information asked ; if any ratepayers wished to obtain any information the best way would be to appoint a committee of two or three to investigate any or all amounts they want to see. Mr. Morgan said so far as he could see there was nothing to show whether the Board had put this money in their pockets or not. (Laughter). Some remarks were made as to the Board having had plenty of time to prepare a statement. The- Chairman f said tho statement was full and plain, and he did not see what object could be obtained by producing the vouchers. The accounts would be laid

before the auditor in the course of a week or so he hoped. Sir. Tisch asked if the Board considered they were justified in letting one member let a contract, as they did with Sir. Macfarlane last year. The Chairman said the occasion spoken of was one of emergency, and the Board did the best they could. Sir. Macfarline said Sir. Tisch was under a misapprehension, as he did not let it. The surveyor let it on the authority of the Chairman of the Board. Sir. Tisch asked then if the Board would give the surveyor authority to let such a work privately. The Chairman replied—“ Undoubtedly, if necessary, they would.” The Surveyor then produced vouchers for the amounts asked for by Mr. Morgan, and in reply to Mr Craighead’s enquiry furnished the following particulars of rates :—Total rates, L 917 7s. Bd. ; collected, LGIB 15s. sd. ; still due, 1298125. 3d. Mr. Craighead said ho would like to know why this amount was not collected, as he saw there was an overdraft at the Bank. The Chairman explained the overdraft was only an apparent one, as it -was really only a cross entry in the Bank account. The Board was anxious to get the rates in, but it was impossible to get all the sums paid. The land tax was equally difficult to collect by the Government. Mi’. R. Todd asked why the road to the Spread Eagle had been altered from a 5-inch crown to a 12-inch. The Chairman replied it was done to bring it within the specification. Mr. Cameron said ho came over the road that morning, and could say it was fit for either light or heavy traffic. The Chairman said he objected to the question of the construction of a load being discussed at a ratepayers’ meeting. The fact, however, was that the contractor had not finished his work, and the Board had taken it out of his hands, and if Mr. Carlton wished to know his (Mr.-Walker’s) private opinion, he would tell him. Mr. Carlton would like to know it. Mr. Walker said it was the most slovenly work he had seen in the district. Reference was made by others present to the manner in which other works had been allowed to pass. Mr. Easton asked why a rate was not struck this year. The Chairman stated that it was by a reso - lution of the members, and the reason was that so many drains were made upon the ratepayers’ pockets that it was deemed necessary to levy a rate. In rep'y to Mr. Hood, The Chairman said it was considered advisable last year, owing to the Government subsidy to be received. Mr. Easton—You landed proprietors and squatters don’t want to tax your own properties. Mr. Walker —We are the best judges. Mr. Morgan considered on such a subject the ratepayers ought to be consulted. Mr. Tisch said they had put in the Board as competent men, and did not require to call the ratepayers together on every occasion. Mr. Craighead wished fo know what accounts had been paid to the various newspapers. The Chairman—“ Times,” L3O 125.; “Mail,” L3B Is. 6d.; “Press,” LG 13s. 4d.; “ Guardian,” Ll 5 4s, 6d. Mr. Craighead wished to know why all the advertisements had been withdrawn from one paper and given to another. The Chairman—The advertising had been fairly divided, and the “ Mail ” had had its share and then the ‘ ‘ Guardian ” had its share, and was appointed as the paper for six months. Besides he did not see that the ratepayers had been at any inconvenience, as the “•Mail ” had kindly advertised free. Mr. Morgan asked if Mr. Walker had any interest in the “ Guardian.” Mr. Walker declined to answer any questions as to his private business. Mr. Easton said there had been no row about newspapers until the election. (Cheers.) The Chairman said such was the case, but why it was so he could not say. Mr. Craighead wished to know why the lowest tender for Graham’s road had not been accepted, and what was the cost of it. The Chairman said the Board did not bind themselves as a rule to accept the lowest tender. In the instance referred to the lowest tender was informal, and different to the specification. A contractor complained of birch having been substituted for totara on that contract. The return asked for by Mr. Morgan was then supplied, and he objected that it was not what he had asked for. The Chairman said it was impossible to give satisfactory information of this nature at a public meeting, and advised him to adopt Mr. Edson’s resolution—“ That Messrs. Morgan, Hood, and Harvey, bo appointed a com mittee to inspect vouchers &c., and report to a meeting of ratepayers. ” The auditor would inspect the books on the 27th inst., and the resolution was to the effect that the Board was not to be trusted, and they had better say so at once. Mr. Edson said certain works had not been carried out to their satisfaction, and there had been a waste of money in the district. Mr. Cameron said he was of opinion that as so much ill-feeling was engendered at the meeting, he was quite willing to sever his connection with the district, and there seemed to be a feeling in Mount Somers that there had been dishonesty in the dealings of the Board. Mr. Hood did not think any charge of dishonesty had been made, simply one of carelessness. Mr. Tisch said the whole of the ill-feel-ing had arisen from so much power being put in the overseer’s hands in the letting of contracts. Mr. A. Macfarlane said that if the angel Gabriel came down to Mount Somers he would not satisfy them, and all the work done by the Board had been done fairly and above board. Mr. Craighead considered the Board had displayed negligence in not seeing that their servants did their duty. Mr. Edson’s motion was then withdrawn. Mr. Tisch was of opinion that no contract should bo let except by public tender, and moved, “ That the Board, or the overseer, shall not have the power of letting any work over L2O, except by public tender. ” The Chairman said he quite agreed with the resolution, but ho must say that the Board had never let any work except in cases of emergency. The resolution was seconded by Mr, Hood, and carried. Mr. Craighead proposed, “ That in the opinion of this meeting the Ward system ought to be abolished.” He desired to point out that the spirit of the Ordinance was that no ratepayer should have more than five votes; but under the Ward system it was possible for a man to have 25 votes. Mr. Morgan here stated that Messrs. Walker, Taylor, and Peters had gone to Alford Forest to vote for another squatter. The Chairman said he supposed that any ratepayer was allowed to votes in any’ way lie liked, and unde"- the Ward system less votes could actually’ be given than in the other way, as where the district is all in one he could exercise 25 votes, while under the Ward system he could only exercise 31. Mr. Peache said so far as the late election had resulted, he would have been returned even if all those who had voted had only one vote each. Mr. Craighead pointed out that there was a considerable difference in the valua-

tion of the various Wards, and would press the motion. The voting stood thus—For, 10; against, 7. The motion was declared carried. Sir. Cameron proposed, and Sir. M‘Farlane seconded, “That the Road Board office be removed to a more central position,” which was afterwards withdrawn. Sir. Easton 'wished to know whether the Board had anything to do with the site of the pound. The Chairman answered that the Board had chosen the site. Sir. Tisch proposed— “J|ot all contracts for maintenance of or fords be gone over -within 14 days of acceptance. ” —Carried. Mr. Hood proposed—“ That the Board take immediate steps to recover all outstanding rates. ” —Carried. Sir. Slorgan wished to know how much work had been let privately. The Chairman replied—Hardly anything. Day labor had cost in No. 2 ward, L 137 ; No. 3, LUG 19s. ; No. 4, L 7 ICs. Sir. Craighead said the Board had obtained a pile-driving machine, piles and shoes, and he would like to know the cost, as he heard the piles and shoes were now lying down the river-bed somewhere. The Chairman replied they had been procured for the purpose of making a ford which was not now necessary, as a bridge was to be built there by the Gouty Council. The cost of the machine was L 75. Mr. Tisch proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, and several left the room. Sir. Slorgan wanted to know why the pound was built in its present site without consulting the ratepayers. Mr. Walker stated “that the site was selected because it was the most central. Sir. Cameron seconded Mr. Tisch’s proposal, and it was carried. The meeting then adjourned.

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MOUNT SOMERS ROAD BOARD. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 50, 20 January 1880

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