CAVERSHAM'S LAST BALANCESHEET.
TO THK EDITOR. Sm, —In your issue of the ICth iast. "Search" writes complaining of the management of local affairs in this borough. It would have been more satisfactory to the ratepayers if "Search" had signed hie proper name. Then the ratepayers would have had an opportunity of judging whether he is the genius in managing affairs that his letter would lead us to infer. If I am not mistaken, "Search" has tried his hand in shaping the affair 3 of thia borough as a prominent member for North Ward, who, on his forced retirement from the Council, formed a ratepayers' association to watch the proceedings of the Council, which body immediately collapsed when he was reelected to the Council. It seems to me a wise dispensation that the memory, in dwelling on old times, only retains pleasant recollections, and that the unpleasant portions of life vanish unless an effort is made to recall them.
Let mo recall the past for "Search's" information and for other ratepayers'. Eight years ago there was only one road in Caversham worth the name—the Msin South road, which was made and metalled by the Provincial Government. There were no footpaths; what water tables there were were filled with slops and soapsuds from houses; a stinking ditch ran through the borough ; there were no street lamps, and the roads in winter were nearly impissable with mud. With all these inconveniences the inhabitants had to pay heavy rate 3, as the following will show : JSBO-81--General rate, Is in £; separata rate. 1?. ISSI-82 - General rate, Is in £; special rate, 31. In 18S0-81 the Council also received L 977 6s JOd from the General Government. These figures are a little different to " Search's " statement. In addition to these rates, whenever the ratepayers wanted a street formed the Council would insist that they should subscribe amongst themselves a certain sum, I have known ratepayers pay a sum amounting to five or six years' rates to get access to their properties. Then, again, thero was the wear and tear of boots—a heavy tax in itself, without taking into account the sickness amongst the little ones sitting in school with wet feet. When dry weather prevailed for any length of tiriie it cost os for every barrel of water carted. Thi3 state of things might have suited a few old identities, but as the borough filled up with houses the ratepayers clamored for some of the conveniences of life ; auft hence the loan, which so sorely troubles "Search." At the present time the populous parts of the borough have asphalt footpaths, concrete water tables, good roads, drainage from their houses, an abundant supply of water, and street lamps to guide them to their homes at night; they have their water
closets cleaned onee a month ; the children can go to and from school with dry feet, and the ratepayers can travel through most parts of the borough without soiling their boots. For all these advantages ratepayers have to pay as follows :—General rate, Is ; special rate, 3d ; separate rate, 3d ; and a water rate of 5 per cent, on the rateable value of property. With the special rate the Council is paying off the loan at the rate of over L2OO a year. The question arises in my mind, would the ratepayers revert back to the old state affairs? I for one would not. X" Search " finds fault with the L3OO water auoply loan. He does not say how it could be avoided—when he does perhaps I will have something to say. " Search" is sorely troubled about the mayor receiving LSO a year. Ido not think this is a salary, but only a reimbursement of expenditure. If a man worthily fills that position he has many calls on his purse, and I think no man should, besides giving his services, put his hand in his pocket because lie is elected mayor. Again, the Council had nothing to do with the hospital and charitable aid being thrust on the shoulders of the ratepayers. " Search " ought to know better than make t such a statement. When the ratepayers by their votes resolved to borrow money for drainage and other works, the Council employed the best engineer in Dunedin to report on the drainage scheme. The Council also got a report from the ! Government Engineer, and both were unanimous in recommeudiDg that the plan as carried out was tho best. This necessitated an Act of Parliament. The mayor called several meetings of the ratepayers in different parts of the borough, showed the engineers' plans, and explained tho question to them. The ratepayers in each ward signed a petition asking Parliament to approve of same, and by Act the route was altered. With reference to the Wilkie road, the ratepayers by theirvotes borrowed LI,OOO | to purchase land and form the road. Before taking the land the Council tried their beat to arrange terms with Smith and Fotheringham for the land without any law proceedings, but they failed ; then the Council took the opinion of several experts in Dunedin as to the value of the lend, and these were unanimous in saying that L6OO or L7OO was the I outside value. The land was taken under the Public Works Act, and the Supreme Court awarded close on L 2,000 as compensation. Now, I ask "Search" wherein was the Council to blame ? Was it because they carried out the wish of the ratepayers, or because the action they took did not suit " Search's " ideas. In conclusion, I would ask "Search" to be more charitable in his ideas. In managing his own affairs, has he never found out that after doing a thing, if he had the same thing to do over again, he would have acted differently. I have, often ; nothing is easier than to find fault. " Search" must know that members of local bodies are elected by the ratepayers If they do wrong, are the ratepayers blameless ? Many of the councillors spend a good deal of their time on Council business, leaving their own firesides, and putting up with much personal inconvenience. Some of them, at every committee and Council meeting, are at personal expense to further the interests of the borough. If affairs are so mismanaged in this borough, let "Search" show his zsal for the community by action, not by words. The elections will shortly take place—if he can prove his case he will have no difficulty iu placing the management of affairs in other hands. Let me say a word of caution to ratepayers in all local bodies. Generally speaking, the most intelligent men in a community are sensitive, and this fault-finding and abuse every year deters these men from taking part in public affairs. You should encourage these men to come forward. Opportunities are given you to.get the right men. Don't elect men and then abuse them, otherwise there is a danger of local government drifting into tho hands of the callous and reckless, —I am, etc., Search No. 2. Caversham, July 25,
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CAVERSHAM'S LAST BALANCESHEET., Evening Star, Issue 7974, 1 August 1889
CAVERSHAM'S LAST BALANCESHEET. Evening Star, Issue 7974, 1 August 1889
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