ASHBURTON GAS COMPANY.
The annual meeting of the shareholders of the Ashburton Gas Company was held in the Library Hall yesterday afternoon. There were only about a dozen shareholders present, and Mr. T. Bullock occupied the chair. Mr. J. Ward, the Secretary, read the advertisement calling the meeting; also, the minutes of the meeting held in October, 1878, which were adopted. The Secretary then read the report and balance-sheet for the year ending 30th September, 1879. The report was as follows : REPORT. Your directors have much pleasure in meeting the shareholders, after many vexatious delays, at this their first annual meeting after the commencement of the company’s operations in the manufacture of gas. Shortly after the meeting held on the 21at of October 1878, at which your directors were appointed, active steps were taken to commence the erection of works on the site previously selected for the purpose. The works were pushed on with considerable energy, with the view of being ready to supply the town with gas at the commencement of the winter of 1879, but a series of delays and accidents occurred, which prevented gas being supplied before the 15th August, the winter being then, of course, nearly over. Some of the delays took place in consequence of the large concrete tank made for receiving the gas-holder being found to leak when filled with water. When this leakage had been remedied and the tank again filled the pressure caused it to split from top to bottom. This caused another delay and very considerable extra expense to repair and again fill. Mains have been laid through the principal thoroughfares of the town, about two and a half miles' in length. These works, including retorthouse, manager’s house, etc., were completed at a cost of over L 6,000, and may now be said to be in full operation. Your directors, after due deliberation, decided to charge the net price of 19s. 4d. per 1,000 cubic feet, a price similar to that charged by the several gas companies in this Provincial District at the commencement of their operations, notwithstanding that building material and coal cost considerably more than at other places consequent upon the distance from a seaport. The works commenced with supplying thirteen consumers, and at the end of the financial year, namely, the 30th September, these had increased to forty-five. As the works have only been in operation six weeks, of course no dividend can be declared. Four directors have to be elected to fill the vacancies on the Board, namely, Messrs. B. G. Wright and A. Orr, who retire by lot, but who are eligible for reelection, and two in place of Messrs. Ivess and Doherty.
Messrs. E. G. Wright, A. Orr, R. W, Shearman, add F. T. Mayo are the only , candidates nominated for the vacancies) ; It will be necessary to elect auditors in place of Messrs. W. H. Zouch and G. Jameson, who retire, but are eligible for re-election. Thomas Bullock, Chairman. balance-sheet. The balance-sheet returns the gross liabilities as L 7,995 Is. 9d., including L 4,498 10s. of capital called up debts and bills payable, L 1,852 18s. 7d.; and bank overdraft, L 1,642 18s. Id. The corresponding assets are made up by freehold land, L 792 10s.; plant, building, and cost of mains, L 5,836 18s. lOd. ; metres, L 543 11s. 3d.; preliminary expenses, L 240 16s. 9d.; office furniture, Lll 10s. 6d. ; and debts due to the Company, L 569 14s. sd. Total, L 7,995 la. 9d. The profit and loss account shows the gross revenue for the period under notice to have been L 173 7s. 6d. , and the expenditure, L 172 12s. sd. The capital account exhibits the nominal capital as LIO,OOO ; of which 4,498 10s. is paid-up, and Lsollos. is due from unpaid calls._ The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report and balance-sheet, said that nine months of the year had elapsed since the date on which the annual meeting should have been held, the delay having occurred through inability to obtain the necessary nunlbera of shareholders required to be present for the election of directors and. auditors under the provisions of the Joint Stock Company’s Act, under which they had, until a few months since, been working. However, they were now working under articles of association, and by the new arrangement they required only eight shareholders to forma quorum, whereas, under the Act, sixteen were necessary. The present meeting had been called immediately sufficient time had elapsed required by the articles of association. It would be seen from the report that several miles of mains had been laid through the town. At the commencement of the undertaking they only had thirteen consumers— when the report was compiled this number had increased to forty-five, and he (the Chairman) was in a position to state that the present number of consumers was seventyfive, so there had been a steady increase in the Company’s business since operations were commenced. The charge made for gas was the same as the Christchurch, Lyttelton, and Oamaru Companies had charged in their infancy ; and considering the distance which Ashburton Was from any seaport town, and the consequent increase in freight charges, etc., the shareholders would, no doubt, be of opinion that a failprice had been charged. Nevertheless, the directors were about to reduce the price, which would probably result in an increase of consumers. It would be necessary to hold the next annual meeting as soon after the 30th September next as possible, when the directors hoped to be able to declare a dividend. Considering the very scattered nature of the town, it would, no doubt, explain the large amount expended in plant, some of the pipes being laid in streets were there wex - e very few consumers. Had it not been for the depression setting in immediately after the company came into existence, Mr. Bullock believed the number of consumers instead of being seventy-five would have number over 100. However, he believed that in a year or two’s time, the concern would be as great a success as was anticipated gwhen it was inagurated. As seen by the report it would be necessary to elect directors and auditors, and would conclude his remarks by moving the adoption of the report and balance-sheet. Mr. Mayo seconded.
Mr. Power was of opinion that if a reduction in the price of gas were made, it would encourage the increase of consumers.
Mr. Cookson gave expression to the same opinion.
In reply to Mr. Chapman, the Chairman said there would certainly be no further calls made until after the next meeting. In any case, due notice would be given when the directors thought such a course necessary.
The report and balance-sheet were then adopted. Mr. Power proposed, and Mr. Cookson seconded —“That Messrs. E. G. jWright, Andrew Orr, R. W. Shearman, and F. T. Mayo be elected directors for the ensuing twelve months.” Carried.
Mr. T. Quill proposed, Mr. Causey seconded, and it was unanimously carried —“ThatMessrs. Jameson and Zouch be re-elected auditors of the Company.” Mr. R. Friedlander, in moving a vote of thanks to Mr. Ward for his services as secretary, referred in highly eulogistic terms to the very satisfactory manner in which the duties pertaining to the office of secretary had been coonducted. Mr. T. Quill seconded the motion, remarking it was not only for the manner in which Mr. Ward had done his work that he' deserved thanks, but also to his courtesy and kindness in placing his office at the service of the directors whenever required for holding a meeting. After the Chairman had spoken in a similar strain, the motion was carried unanimously. Yotes of thanks having been accorded to the directors and to the manager of the Company, Mr. Causey, several shareholders bearing testimony to that gentleman’s ability, the meeting terminated.
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