Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1905. THE BOROUGH RATE.
At last night's meeting of the Borough Council, a rate of Is 6d was decided on for the ensuing year. We are sure that this decision of the Council will be received with regret by all who are anxious to see the Borough make some advancement. No doubt a Is 6d rate will enable the Council to carry on the works of the Borough; but the aspect of the question that should appeal most strongly to all patriotic citiaens is not merely how to carry on the work of keeping the Borough m its present condition.but how to make improvements so as to bring the Borough into a thoroughly efficient and up-to-date condition. With the amount that still remains to be done m the way of asphalting, channelling, and similar work, we consider that the rate has been reduced to Is 6d much too soon. The state of some of our 6treetswith grass growing on the footpaths and a worn track m the middle has rightly been characterised a3 disgraceful, and it is hard to understand how an experienced Councillor like the Mayor can justify to himself the attitude he has taken up on this matter. The reduction of the rate from the suggested Is 9d to Is 6d has deprived the Borough of over .£3OO, which might have been expended to the great profit of the burgesses as a whole, and at the same time this reduction ha 3 involved a saving of only a few shillings a year to the bulk of the ratepayers. Last year i>2oß was expended m street maintenance, while on this year's estimates only .£175 is set aside for that purpose. Last year j£l66 was expended on metalling, while only is allowed this year. Channelling work cost .£226 m 1904, and is estimated to cost only ,£2OO m 1905, while the figures for asphalting for the same two years are and £75. We think that the Council have made a great mistake m cutting down the funds at their disposal to such an extent, and it is not difficult to foresee the ultimate result of their ill advised action. In this year's estimates the amounts set down for channelling, asphalting, and formation total altogether £305. Of this amount, at least .£IOO will be required to effeot repairs to existing channels and asphalt, and thus only £205 remains for progressive forward work, out of a total revenue of £3,622. Moreover, small unforeseen works are continually cropping up, and these will have to be done out of capital, the result being that the Council will find itself burdened with a larger overdraft than ever. When applications begin to come m for more new asphalting and channelling than the estimates have provided for, the Counoil will find itself man unpleasant position. Last Counoil used all the revenue it had, and it was everywhere as economical as possible. When we come to add up the amounts allowed for street maintenance, watering, metalling, channelling, asphalting, and formation we find the total to be only .£675. This is surely an exceedingly small amount to be spent m a year for the above mentioned purposes m a Borough whose property is valued for rating purposes at a total of" £25,074. Posßibly the councillors who voted for the low rate thought they wera adopting the course most likely to be popular : but we doubt whether they were right m thinking this particular course is' the most popular one they could have chosen. The difference between Is 6d and Is gdi 3 so slight to the individual ratepayer that it practically amounts to nothing, whereas the .£3OO that would have been added to the funds now at the Council's command if if they had adopted the Is 9d rate would have enabled them to add considerable improvements to the Borough where they are most needed. If a progressive and forward policy is t> be carried out, the Council will find itself compelled to raise the rate bnfore long, and it will not be very eaey to persuade the public to listen to them then. We can only conclude by repeating that m our opinion a great mistake has been made m adopting such a low rate as Is 6d m the £ at the present time.