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MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.

MR BARRON’S MEETING.

Mr J. Barron, the retiring member for High Ward, and a candidate for re-election, addressed a meeting of ratepayers in the Rattray street Hall last evening. There was a fair attendance,

The chair was taken by Mr W. Dawson, who remarked that it was all very well to cry out for new blood in the Council, but the gentleman who was opposing Mr Barron was a pretty old blood. As to the finances of tho City, he (Mr Dawson) must contradict the statement that they were in a very bad state. At the end of the last financial year in which he held office there was a small credit balance, whereas for years before the finances had been going to the bad. There was, in his opinion, no need for the outcry for a new financial system. Mr Barron, who was well received, said there was no doubt that our streets and footpaths required improvement, and everyone in the Council would be glad to see this work done if they had the wherewithal to effect the improvements. He thought the difficulty could bo to a great extent overcome by tarring and sanding those footpaths that had a good surface; and, if returned, he would make it his business to advocate that this should be done—indeed, he had already spoken to Mr Mirams about the matter, and found that it was possible to give many of the ratepayers clean streets to their doors without spending much money. The channelling also could be attended to in the same way, and thus keep many of the waterways sweet at a small cost. A* to the gasworks, they were not so good an asset as many thought they were, because they cost q, lot of money to keep in repair. A“d ip connection with this subject, it was a question whether gas would be the light of the future, and it would be for the Council to consider whether it was worth while to expend on the gasworks more money than was necessary to keep them going. As to the waterworks, there was this year, for tfie first time, a credit balance, and ho need scarcely tell those present that if credit was due to anyone for this state of affairs he was entitled to his share of it. Concerning the finances of the City, he had no plan to put before the ratepayers excepting that old one of economy—making the money go as far as possible. He was entirely opposed to any increase of rates, and did not consider that this was ne.cessary, in support of which opinion he would quote ffoija a statement nmde up for him in the Corporation offices, and which could therefore be reliefi on. It was a statement showing the position of the finances year by year from 1.884 to 1889 inclusive—that was, for the six years he had had a seat in the Council, The column giving the position as at the 31st March, 1884, showed the debits to be; To municipal account, L 22,451 17s 3d ; water, L 12.238 3s 3d; gas, L 1,493 4s 3d; consolidated loan, L 136 19s 6d ; the overdraft being L 36,320 4s 3d at the 31st March, 1889. The municipal account debit was L 33.258 7s lid; the water account credit, L 866 7s; the gas debit, L 670 Os 4d; consolidated loan, L 273 Us; the overdraft being L 33,335 12s 3d. A statement of the revenue from rates showed that in 1884 the Council received from this source L 19,691 15s 7d; in 1885, L 19.470 13s lid ; in 1886, L 19.326 13s 5d ; in 1887, L 18.340 6s 7d; in 1888, L 13.972 19s; and in 1889, L 13,097 15s 7d. So that the valuations of property had come down in six years by onethird, roughly speaking ; and yet the Council had managed to keep the City in a fair state, and at the same time had actually reduced the amount of the overdraft. There was, in fact, no necessity for a new plan in connection with the finances, and he questioned whether his opponent, with all his plans, could make things better and keep them better with the money there was at disposal. Of course, if he were allowed to have extra rates ho could do a great deal that could not now be done ; but it was for the ratepayers to consider whether an increase of rates was advisable. He (Mr Barron) for one would not advocate any increase. He thought the Council deserved great credit for what they had done. The present councillors were spending the money in a way the ratepayers could not grumble at. As to the question of a gaol site, his opinion was that the present site was a bad one. We should have the gaol in such a place that it would not reduce the value of property around it. He thought there would be a suitable site near Logan Point.

In answer to a question, the candidate said that he was not prepared to advocate the raising of the .channel ip Maclaggan street at tho present time, bpt fie recognised that the channel was dangerously steep, and as soon as possible be would try to have the evil remedied.

Mr Bain thought that Mr Barron had not sufficiently looked after the interests of bis

own ward—he had neglected it for the general welfare of the City—but, notwithstanding tide, lie (Mr Bain) was prepared to move that Mr Barron was the most fit and proper person to represent High Ward. Mr Davies seconded the motun, which was carried Unanimously. MR SWAN AT ALBANY STREET HALL. Mr W. Swan, one of the candidates for Leith Ward, addressed a meeting of electors at the Albany street Hall last evening. There were between twenty and thirty persons present, and Mr W. Simpson was voted to the chair. The Chairman, in introducing the candidate, referred in complimentary terms to the retiring councillor, Mr Lee Smith, for the services he had rendered to the City, and went on to say that Mr Swan had a moral claim on the ratepayers of the ward, inasmuch as he had twice previously contested the seat. Mr Swan said that he had not decided to come forward until he ascertained from Mr Lee Smith that that gentleman’s business affairs precluded him from devoting a sufficient amount of time to Corporation matters, and that, therefore, he did not intend to offer himself for re-election. He (the speaker)) thought that the financial position of the Corporation was a very grave one, the City now owing L 40,000 on general account. He did not blame the present Council for that state of things, which was rather the result of various causes. The value of properties had varied greatly during the last ten years, and it was in that direction that there was a default in revenue. The value of City properties in the years mentioned was as follows :-1879, L 271.305; 1880, L 278.419 ; 1881, L 285.240; 1882, L 294.062; 1883, L.303,724: 1884, L 312.804; 1885, L310.20G; 1886, L 291.971 ; 1837, L 276.000; 1888, L 260,514. Along with this decrease in the value of property the City had recently placed on them the extra charge of hospital and charitable aid, while farther expense had been incurred through streets having to be formed on the reclaimed ground, so that it was really a wonder that the rates had not been increased. In a few years several debentures would become due, but he understood that the sinking fund would meet them, and that meant a relief to the City in one year alone of L 2.000. They should also expect more revenue in future from the water and gas departments as the population that had left them during the last year or two returned to Dunedin. As to the gas department, be thought it was fairly well managed, and the income from it should rather be increased than decreased, Had it not been,, for the chemical experiments that the Council had rather foolishly, the speaker thought, made, the cost of which would be charged to the department, an excellent balance - sheet would have been shown. It seemed an extraordinary and unexplained thing why the City Council should have allowed Kempthorne, Prosser, and Co. to make experiments for their own profit, and without consideration to have released the company from liability. No private business would have done this, and he did not see why the City Council should have done so. It was unfair that the citizens should be saddled with hundreds of pounds of expenses to allow any company to make experiments, The Council seemed to have made a terrible muddle of that business, and he thought the matter should be reopened with a view of getting the company to meet the Council in the matter of expenses. There were various questions that would probably come up for consideration, and he proposed to say a few words about each. One of the most important questions of the day was the preservation of the health of the City, and a great evil that colonial towns had to contend with was typhoid fever. The Corporation should do all they could in attending to the cleanliness of the City, so as to preserve the health of its inhabitants, and if elected he would do all in his power to see that attention was given to the motter. Mith regard to slaughter-houses, he did not think it was the duty of the City Council to do more than see that these places were properly and cleanly kept, It had no funds to build them, and it would be unfair to give a monopoly to any private company that might ruin men in a small way of business. The proper thing, he thought, would be, if it could be arranged for the butchers to cooperate, to come to some agreement amongst themselves, so that good slaughter-houses could be maintained and no one in the trade be unfairly interfered with. If a company could show that the slaughtering could be conducted more cheaply and more effectively than at present, the butchers would no doubt fall in with them, and agree that the slaughtering work should be done by them. If, however, there were butchers conducting their own business in a way that was not offensive to anyone, and that was not injurious to the people who bought their meat, it would be unfair for the City Council to interfere with them. The tramways were an immense convenience to the people, and any concession that could be fairly given to them so long as the fares were not raised, or the City in any way burdened, should be granted. If the company had a probable monopoly, then any further concessions should be jealously watched. The company had given the citizens cheap and quick travelling, and it was entitled to some consideration. He did not see any reason why the electric system should not be tried, provided that the City was in no way injured. As to its safety, he presumed that the City surveyorwould see to that. Theroshould be some clause by which the Council could do away with the system if it was at any time found to be dangerous or a nuisance. In reference to hawking meat, he certainly thought that a difference should be made between those who paid rates and those who did not. In conclusion, he thought that one of the duties of a city councillor was to carefully husband the finances so as to avoid any increase of rates. He was afraid that if the new Charitable Aid Bill was passed it meant a heavier burden being cast on the ratepayers. He thought city councillors should carefully visit the various parts of the ward from time to time to see that the conveniences of the ratepayers were attended to. He should consider it a great honor to be returned, and would do what he could to deserve it. In answer to the question as to whether he would be in favor of overhead wires in connection with the electric trams, Mr Swan said if it was found to be injurious to the City or public he would oppose it. In reply to another question Mr Swan said he would be entirely against an increase of rates, and would do all in bis power to prevent an increase. Mr Dennis Heenan proposed that Mr Swan was the most fit and proper person to represent the ratepayers in Leith Ward in the City Council. This was seconded by Mr Simon M'Donald and carried, there being only one hand held up against the motion, A vote of thanks to the retiring councillor, Mr Lee Smith, proposed by Mr Matthews and seconded by Mr Owen—both of whom spoke in highly complimentary terms of the way in which Mr Lee Smith had filled the position of councillor—closed the meeting. MR HUTCHISON AT RUSSELL STREET. There was only a sparse attendance at the meeting convened by Mr Hutchison, and the candidate accordingly adjourned the meeting.

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Bibliographic details

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS., Evening Star, Issue 8009, 11 September 1889

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MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS. Evening Star, Issue 8009, 11 September 1889

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