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RATEPAYERS' ASSOCIATION.

The monthly meeting of the Wellington Ratepayers' Protection Association was held in one of the side-rooms of the Oddfellows' Hall' last nights Six of the committee and five ratepayers were present. Mr. J. O'Shea (President of the Association), occupied the chair, and opened the proceedings.' ' ' The Secretary read the minutes of the •pnayiquV Tneoting, which were confirmed after some discussion. Mr. Bcjrkb stated, that in accordance wifeli the resolution s passed ab the last meeting, he had procured a copy of the 'Municipal .Corporations Acts, for the use of tne^ Association. He had not bought copied of other Acts, which the committee desired, because he feared they would cost too much. ' ' A'le'ngthy discussion here took place as to the best course to be adopted under the circumstances. On the motion , of the Secretary, seconded by Mr. TTrwin, it was resolved that Mr. Burns' should be authorised to incur an expenditure of not exceeding £1, in the purchase of the books of reference required. Mr. Helyer complained that the Corporation had taken advantage of their power to maker a water rate of 7 per cent., and had taxed them at that full rate. He thought 5 per cent, would be quite enough, although he did not mean to say they ought to take notice of all grumbling, for if they did, they might have the rate reduced to 2£ per cent. '; but he certainly thought the limit of rating for water ought to be fixed by law at 5 per cent. At present, the water-rate came very heavy, especially on small shopkeepers, who were hardly able 1 to pay it. The rating was very high to begin with, and 7 per cent, for water as well, made the tax very oppressive. Many small shopkeepers had to pay as much as £7 for water-rate. The waterrate in Wellington was very much higher than in Dunedin or Melbourne, although the natural facilities for constructing Waterworks .were greater. ."-• The CHAik&LATt thought the rates were ¦imposed mitoh'bn'the same principle, as the 'stb!er«ii^nHibus J 'titx^ ; Which in jtfew,"£ealab'd"\yere laid oil tihe working classes 'who taiefl r tmt of all' proportion" to the' richer classes '-' Mrl'HEl/YER^hen .moved his resolution (adjourned 'from the 'previous meeting), to ihfe ' effect? that certain * alterations were needed in '{he Waterworks Act, and thattihe maximum' rate 1 chargeable f6r. water should be reduced from seven per cent, to tive per cent. (Mr. Dnwix mov^d as an amendment that t consideration of the subject be postponed until after* ihfe result of the rate cases now '•pending 'in -the • Resident Magistrate's Court should be made known. If that result were in favor of Mr. Jeffs and the ratepayers who were contesting the question, then there would be no necessity for taking any action at all, if otherwise, then it would be time, to move. ¦ , Mr. BuKsk supported the origin.-*! motion. Me" thought lihe'y ought to lose no time in taking the necessary steps to remedy their 'present grievance. , , ' 'Mr. Wills also supported the motion. , He, complained of ihe great waste of water 'permitted. Brewers and others were allowed to waste a vast amount of water j he thought the use of meters ought to be enforced: 1 '. 'vi ' ' • ', Mr] HelVek objected t 3trpngly to meters. He' thought there' was plenty of water in NeV Zealand, and water ought to be as free to them' as the air they breathed. Mr. Worts remarked that it was all very 1 -well to talk about water being as free as air and there being -plenty of .water in ' Sew Zealand, but the question to them wa3 .that there Was ,not plenty of water in 'the' reservoir. During the summer espe* cially the supply Was Very short, and besides that there always would be persons [ whir would waste tlie * water whether in summer or winter. He strongly advocated 1 the use of meters, which would not cost

much, and would enable the charges for Water to be more fairly apportioned among thosr -who used it. Thus those who used large quantities for rngine«. &c, would have t<> pay in proportion to the quantity used. If the supply were regulated in this way, there Was little doubt that it could be supplied nvre cheaply, and then the expense being reduced the rate also might be reduced. He warmly supported the motion and urged that they should petition" the City Council to obtain au alteration of the acts, limiting the rating power to 5 per Cent. • Mr. tjßWij?, with the consent of the meeting, withdrew his amendment. Mr. Waters suggested thnt a committee should be appointed to (leal with the matter. Mr. 2i WARrtntToS pointed out that the Citj Council wn? .authorised to charge 2} per cent, for the use of water for engines while 7 per cent, was charged far water to the small property holders. Thus any one using several engines or hydraulic lifts only would be charged 2i per cent, notwithstanding tile large quantity \tsed. whereas A small householder was charged 7 per cent, for using only a small quantity for domestic purposes. Mr. Burns proposed that a committee should be appointed to deal with the subject. The Chairman- advised that the matter should stand over for the present in order that they might be able to ascertain what proportion the rate bore to the oost of the woiks Unless they cotild show that the rates were not only heavy but Utterly inequitable, it would be useless their moving in the matter. Mr. Worth did not admit that the question at issue was what proportion the rate bore to the cost of the works. He had no doubt that a rate of that amount might be fully required to pay interest, sinking fund, &c. The question was who was to pay it 1 He maintained that the real grievance was the inequality with which the rates bore on different people. It might be fair that some should be charged even 12 per cent, even if others only were charged 3. What they wanted wa3 a fair adjustment of the rate. Mr. Burns agreed with the lost speaker. He did not assert that the average amount contributed was too high, bub that the majority, the working men, were charged ton high. They it was who were rated ~at 7 per cent, and they ought to be reduced to 5. If it were necessary to make «p this deficit, let it be done by raising the rates on the larger properties to o per cent. The working-men wero the 1 majority andimust protect their rights. Mr. E. J. "Wakefiklb, speaking not as a ratepayer, but as' amictui .curia strongly advised the committee -when, they were making the enquiries proposed, to .read carefully Mr. Buchanan's report on the subject, from wliich they wotifd gain much valuable information. He" thought they ought to take into consideration the large extent to which the 'water was Used for purposes of irrigation. Especially "was this the case in the gardens near the Hospital. This ought to be checked while the supply of water continued to be insufficient. Mr. Buck complained that the water rate was apportioned so as to fall very heavily on the poor man, while it allowed the richer to escape paying their fnll share. Mr. Jeffs pointed out that although only two-thirds of the authorised water rate was raised lasb year, yet there was a surplus which had been estimated at £2000. Now, this year the fulLrats was being collected, and also the many new buildings erected had become rateable, so that there ought to be even a still greater surplus. Several other members having spoken two or three times to both the motion and the amendment, The CJIiArRMATi recommended a more regular mode of conducting the business, and impressed on the speakers the necessity of speaking to the point, and not go into too wide questions. Ultimately it was resolved that a, subcommittee, Consisting 6f the' Chairman, Secretary, Messrs. Helyer, Warburton, and Jeffs, be appointed to make the neces-. Bary enquiries into the subject, and to report to the Association in a fortnight. Mr Jeffs! then stated to the meeting the circumstances of his case, in reference to the Corporation's claim for the .water rate, which he resisted on the grounds stated in his letter in last night's Post. This ease now had been adjourned four times, on the application of the City Solicitor, although his own solicitor, Mr Buckley, was fully prepared to go on. The matter now took, rather a serious form.' If tho case were not decided before the 20th instant — if any further adjournment took place, he would be disfranchised as a burgess for the year, and his name would be struck off the roll as a rate defaulter, and also those who stood by him in the matter. He had defended this claim in the interest of { the Ratepayer's Association ; it was not a personal matter' with him. It was" possible that these repeated adjournments were a ruse on the part of the City Council to punish him for objecting to pay, by having him disfranchised. He was advised (by ' Mr Buckley that the rate was entirely illegal, and acting on that advice he had resisted the claim in the public interest. He Was Hob at liberty to divulge Mr Buckley's grounds for this view. After some further discussion, it was , agreed that the matter should stand over until the case had been decided in Court. The Secretary then' reported that in accordance with the resolution pasßed at the last meeting, lie liad written tOj the .'Corporation in reference £6 ' Mr ( Buek'9 r grievance. The Public Worka 'Committee attended to the 1 matter, and rectified the grievance complained of. "When the subject came before the City Council, Mr Dransiield made some sneering remarks about the Association, and si>oke of it as' taking premature action in a matter the Council already had attended' to. They would see by the report in the Posr what took place oti that oticasioiu The fact Was the action of the Public Works Committee was taken on the representation of the' Association. Mr Buck expressed his acknowledgements to the Association for the interest it had taken in his complaint, and for the success which had attended its efforts on his behalf. Mr Burns, as one of the deputation appointed to wait On Mr t)ransfleld to obtain a clearer idea of his views in reference; to the motion of which he had given noticeas to city insurance, said Mr Dransneld informed the deputation (which consisted of Messrs Toomath, Worth, Urwin, and him- 1 self) that srt little public interest appeared, to be taken in the matter, thai he had not felt inclined to move further in it. He (the speaker) was in favor, of the idea. A sum of £30,000 to £40,000 was paid yearly in premiums on fire insurance, and only about £5000 As yet had been paid for losses; ¦ The subject was allowed to stand 6Ver for the present. Mr. Buck called attention to a danger)ous drain nea¥ ihe Alp.' Barracks, which had caused several accidents .lately,; and in one case he had been called out of his bed to help out one person who liad fallen in. The Chairman thought it ought -to be represented to the Corporation officers instead of to the Association. If the former <

neglected it. then the Association could S interfere. ] The SfcreTarV thought the question a \ A'cry proper one fr>r the Association to take 1 up. < Several other persons "spoke to the qxteS- I tion, and in the end the subject dropped. r Tlie Secretary brought under the con- i siderati»n of the Association a uewidea for ; future assessment Avhich had occurred to 1 him lately. It was that the Association i it3elf should perform the work of assess- ' ment. It might tender for the work the : same as> other" assessors, and thus do it not i only cheaply and well, but also to the satis* faction of tho ratepayers. He gaVe notice of a motion to that effect, for discussion at the next meeting, and Imped the ratepftyei'3 would Grtitsider it meanwhile. The meeting then adjourned al 10 p.m.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP18750605.2.12

Bibliographic details

Evening Post, Evening Post, Volume XI, Issue 82, 5 June 1875

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2,037

RATEPAYERS' ASSOCIATION. Evening Post, Volume XI, Issue 82, 5 June 1875

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