THE CITY MAYORALTY.
OB JAMBS GORE AT OLD KNOX CHUROH. Cr James Gore, one of the candidates for the mayoralty of the City of Dunedin, addressed a meeting of the ratepayers in old Knox Church last night, when there -was only a small attendance. The chair -was occupied by Mr George Lawrence. . The Chairman, in introducing the speaker, said that Cr Gore was well known as an old citizen, and one who had served for a number of years in the City Council. He was sorry there was not a larger attendance. It showed the people did not take the interest they should in municipal matters. They allowed the Council to go on with the municipal affairs as they liked, and when anything occurred which did not please them they complained. He considered that the people should come to these meetings and take an interest in the elections, for it would have a very beneficial effect upon those who go into the Council. He thought those present would agree with him in sayiog that if there was any honor—and there was—attached to the mayoral chair, those who had Eerved in the Council year after year and shown their ability to manage the business should have that reward in preference to its being bestowed upon an outsider.—(Applause.) For a new man coming into the Council, it would take him twelve months to understand the Corporation's affiirs, and the time during which he was mayor would be thrown away. He trusted that Or Gore would give them more of municipal politics than they had had from at least one aspirant for the mayoral chair. Cr Gobe said he knew that municipal politics were a veiy dry subject indeed on which to give an address, but he intended to touch very briefly on the different aspects of the subjeot. He would omit as many figures as he possibly could, and what he would give them would be in round numbers, but he could vouch for their being positively correct. It was customary for a candidate addressing the ratepayers in an election of this kind to hold his firßt meeting in the City, but circumstances in municipal affairs, as in other things, were changing. Some years ago Leith Ward was a sparsely-populated district, but now it was the most populous of the ware's. There were 1,020 ratepayers in Leith Ward, as against 374 in South Ward, and proportionate numbers in High and Bell Wards. That led him to think that there should be a readjustment of the boundaries of the wards, for at present Leith Ward had virtually only half the representation that South Ward had. The members for South Ward, however, of whom he was one, had on every occasion bestowed as much attention on Leith Ward as on their ovm, and had never begrudged it any money that it actually required. The consideration of that matter brought him to the question of the amalgamation of boroughs, or what was known as the Local Government Bill. It was impossible for him to discuss in one night that Bill, for it was a measure of 531 clauses and eleven schedules. It had very many good points in ib, and it was exceedingly well drafted—far above the average of Bills'. There were, however, many things in it which were not at all desirable, and he thought it was in advance of present requirements. It gave all sorts of power to borrow and raise special rates for public works, lighting, libraries, and other things. It almost gave power to tax a ratepayer out of a borough, but it did not give any assured finance. The subsidy to be paid by the Government under it was a capitation fee of 4s per head of the population, and, with a population of 24,000, that would give the handsome sum of £4,800 ; but they knew from their experience of the past that there subsidies were of a very temporary nature, and were frequently cat down to a nominal sum. Those who had read Mr Cargill's speech would have notioed that that gentleman took some credit for having been one of the company that first brought water into Dunedin, that having, he said, been a great boon to the City at the time. It might not be unintere sting to many ratepayers who might not know the history of the waterworks if the speaker briefly went over it, and he would give it entirely from his memory, which was a good one on municipal matters. A compauy was formed to bring water in from the Water of Leith, and it received a very large concession, as it obtained the right of reticulation of the town. That company brought the water in from the Water of. Leith workß, but as the town was extending more rapidly than was anticipated the reticulation was falling short, and in a short time would have had to be extended to a considerable degree, while there "was also a fear of the supply from the Water of Leith failing. The Corporation was then approached with the view of its buying from the shareholders. The shares were £lO shares, and the Corporation ultimate!}' bought at the enormous price of £l7 103; so he thought any shareholders who went in for a speculation of that kind could not boast of having done much for the Citizens, and what they did they were excecdir.gly well paid for in receiving a £7 10s premium on their £lO shares. Shortly after that there was a shortage of water in the Leith, and the Council Lad to devise a means of increasing the supply; and there was a strong fight between the Silverstream and the Leith. Mr Woodland, Whom he believed to have been one of the be3t councillors they had ever had, and who had produced more useful, work that was now in existence than any other councillor, was then in the Council, and he, Mr J. B. Thomson, the speaker, and others, after giving full consideration to this, decided in their own minds that the extension of the Water of Leith to the head waters of the'Waitati would not give so good or so permanent a supply as could bo procured from the Silverstream. It was originally supposed that the Silverstream would cost £38,000, but he believed that the cost eventually was something like £86,000. He thought, however, that it had been an immense benefit to the citizens of Dunedin, to whom it gave a large and pure water supply ; for it was pure. Dr Black had analysed it a short time ago, and found that its constituent parts were very pimilar to those of the famous water of Lake Katrine. It was true that after rain the water, coming as it did through a race, became muddy ; but it was not deleterious on that account. As to the Water of Leith, great complaints had been made about the Corporation not having put filter beds in it; but he might tell them that that oould not be done, for it would reduce the pressure to such an extent that the water would not rise sufficiently far up the hills. There was, moreover, not room for filter beds, which would require to be duplicated, as while one was in use the other would require to be cleaned. He thought that the oitizens did well in choosing the Silverstream against the Leith, but the Council was equally divided on the subject at the time, and it was only on the casting vote of Mr Liary, who was then mayor, that it was decided upon. The gasworks wero not in so satisfactory a condition as the waterworks. The Corporation was unfortunate in having had to' buy old works, on which large sums of money had to be spent, and even now the woiks were not in such good order as they should be in. The works had in their- time cost £138,000. The loan for them was £IOO,OOO, but about £38,000 had been spent on them out of profits from the gas department. He believed that they could build better works now for half the money that the present works had cost. The pas engineer reported that within four years £4,000 would be required for the building of new furnaces, and £16,000 for a gasholder, but the latter expenditure might, he said, be staved off for some years if they put in a water gas plant at a cost of £IO,OOO. His (Cr Gore's) own feeling was that the Council should be very chary about spending any money on the gasworks, for science was so revolutionising things now that they did not know what the morrow might bring forth. Water gas was beyond the experi-1 mental stage, and it might be that acetylene gas could be brought under control, and he believed that both of them would prove cheaper than coal gas. The profit from the gas account was something like £3,000 after deducting interest on loan, 1 per cent, contribution to sinking fund, and other charges, including depreciation, which was only a book entry, for it did not alter the bank balance in the slightest. Some three years ago the Gas Committee recommended that the price of gas for heating and power'should be reduced toss6d. He thought I that was a great mistake, for a number of people had been induced to buy stoves and ranges and to put engines in on the strength of thfe reduction, and it would be rather.an injustice and a
breach of faith to again ratee the price, but the present low rates did not pay the Corporation. With regard to the tramways, Mr Gore went on to say that Mr Max Epstein made an offer to tho City Council to supply electricity to the City tramwayß. The offer was discussed, but subsequently Mr Epstein applied for a concession of a forty-twoyears'lease.whiohin reality wouldmean a sixty-three years' lease. The Council would have made a gross mistake if it had given con.trol of the streets to a tramway company for such a lengthy period, and shortly after Mr Epstein, for some reason best known to himself, withdrew from the negotiations. In February, 1897, Captain Cradock also approached the Council with a view to getting concessions for substituting gas as a motive power in place of horse haulage. The General Committee reported favorably on tho application, and its recommendation was based on information it had secured as to the cost of gas motors and the suitability of the system for a town- like Dunedjn. The Committee recommended that Captain Cradock should be granted a forty-two years' lease, but at the expiry of twenty-ono years the Corporation should have the right of taking over the trams at a valuation for the plant alone, and that thoy should not be compelled to pay anything for the goodwill. Negotiations were next set afoot as to the price at which gas would be supplied, and the result was that the project fell through and CaDtain Cradock withdrew his offer. Personally he (Cr Gore) would be in favor of buying the trams on condition that they could be got "at a fair valuation, and not at a fancy price. He was in favor of this course for two reasons. First, it would provide work for the gasworks, while the effects on the City from a sanitary point of view would be greatly beneficial. The tramway system at present utilises a large number of horses, and the result wa3 that a great deal of dust was created, causing loss to tradesmen and annoyance to townspeople generally. Further, tho expenditura on the streets entailed by the extra traffic would be obviated. Another thing which he strongly advocated should be carried out was the converting of the boulder channels into conorete ones; To effect this work would not cost such a large sum, and the benefits that would ba derived from a health point of view would more than compensate for the expenditure. He believed that the boulder channels presented a greater evil than the system of discharging tho sewage into the bav. Besides the large concerns he had spoken of which the Council had to manage, there would shortly be another, and that was the abattoirs. The latter would probably be in working order in February next, and the Corporation would probably adopt the system of charging butchers so much for permission to have their cattle slaughtered there. Whether it will turn out a profitable investment or not he could not Bay, but whether it did or not it was a step in the right direction. He did not think the loss would be very heavy, and as against that citizens would /a m i more wnoleßom e meat than hitherto. —(Applause.) Another question which had been freely spoken of of late was the public library. He gave the gentlemen who were endeavoring to raise funds for that object every credit, but he did not agree with the way in which they had gone about to attain their ojject. It seemed they had created a great deal of friction between themselves and the members of the Athenreum in their efforts to form it into a public library. He had been a member of the Athenieum for many years, and he knew it had supplied a want in the City. The members were very well satisßed with it, and did not want a change. Moreover, he did not think it was suitable for a public library. The books were mainly composed of li<*ht literature—novels and so forth—and there were very few books of reference there. He thought that if.those interested in the movement could raise £IO,OOO and erect a building for a public horary and equip it. the Council might very well take it over and maintain it. A scheme had been formulated by soma gentleman to raise £15,000 by the issue of stamps. Whether it was a visionary or a practical proposal he could not say, but if it were practical he thought it should be gften a chance. It would be a very simple method of raising funds for the library. The next subject to which he would like to refer was that of the Citys finance. Lately there had been a great deal of talk about the Council having let their finances get into a muddle. As an old member of the Finance Committee he could assure them that the finances of the Corporation were not in a muddle. Apart from the administration of the Committee tho staff was too efficient, and Mr Taylor was too good an accountant, to allow the accounts to get into a muddle. There wa3 no doubt that the Corporation was going to the bad at the rate of £IO,OOO a year for" some years past, and that deficiency had been made up out of the surplus profits of the gas and water to a very considerable extent. The object of the Council in doing this was to relieve the ratepayers from the burden of an extra rate as long as possible. The Council quite realised that rents were so low in Dunedin and the suburbs as to render the payment of the existing rates a difficulty, and he considered the Council had acted well in refraining from imposing an extra rate until it was absolutely necessary.—(Applause). Comparing last year with the year 1889, it would be seen that there was a tailing off in revenue of £7,000, made up of municipal rates £2,000, rents £3,000, licenses £2,000. Then there had also been a considerable increase in the expenditure. The amount paid for the charitable aid rate in 1886 was £484, and it received in that year a Bubsidy from the Government of £BOO. Last year the sum of £2j970 was paid for charitable aid, while the amount received from the Government had dwindled down to £450. Governments had a tendenoy to out down subsidies and thus relieve themselves at the expense of the ratepayers, throwing the burden on local bodies. Thus there was an increase in the amount the Corporation had to pay for charitable aid of £2,486 over the amount paid in 1886, while there was a decrease in the Government subsidy of £550. In twelve years the Corporation had paid £34,000 in respeot of charitable aid, while it had only received in Government subsidies the sum of £6,300. It had paid on an average £2,300 a year for oharitable aid, so that altogether there was £9,300 that wanted accounting i'or. The Council had to extend the streets and make footpaths across the Town Belt and carry out maintenance work, so that the deficiency was easily accounted for. Tho Corporation, then, had gone back, but the matter was wholly beyond the Council's control. As he had said before,, the deficiency had been made good from the gas and water. Since 1889 £25,700 .had been taken from the gas account, and £13,800 from the water account. The oredit of the gas account was £6,400, and the water £15,000. This year the aam of £10,500 would have to be taken from tnose amounts, and that was as much as they could possibly take in the future, for the credit of these accounts would have to be set against the overdraft of the municipal account. The limit of the overdraft was £26,000. On the 31st March the accounts would be nearly £3,C00 over the limit, and in order to have them passed by the Auditor-General the threepenny rate would be struck. That rate would bring the balance within the limit allowed by the law. He did not think there was any cau?e for fear regarding the Corporation finance in the future, 'l he sixpenny rate that had been imposed would be ample to raise, in round figures, £6,000. Next year a loan of £21,900 would be falling in, and that would afford a relief in respect of interest and tinking fund to the extent of £1,672. The amount of that loan might not be all provided for by the Sinking Fund Commissioners; but I he understood there would not be very much of a deficiency to provide for, so that the debentures might be met. Supposing that £1,500 would be realised in the shape of interest and sinking fnnd, that, added to the £6,000 he had mentioned, would make £7.500. and he thought they might safely take £3,000 a year from the profits of the ga3 and water departments, and thus make up the deficiency of £10.500. That deficiency could not last very much longer, ana as population increased and revenue went up the receipts of the Corporation would also increase. In that connection-he would strongly urge upon the citizens of Dunedin the importance of pushing on the Otago Central Bailway. He did not know of anything that would do Dunedin so much good as the opening up of that line, or that would do so much to produce the gravitation of population and money to the City. The figures of the valuation roll were ag~in increasing, and he believed that in a few years' time the revenue would so improve that the sixpenny rate would be ample to meet all requirements. That might not.seem to be a very prosperous state of finance; but he would now turn to a much brighter side of the picture, and he would show that the Corporation finances were in a perfectly
sound and healthy condition. Theloanß.tofall due were:— ■>?: ■
Rate i Total ■Date. Amount. percent, t charge. 1898 . ... £20,900 ... • 7 ..." JE1.672 1901 ... 12,500 ... 7 ... 1,000 .1902 ... 7,700 ... 7 ... 616 1903 ... 9,200 ... 6 ... 664 1905 ..: 18,400 ... 6 ... 1,288 1908 ... gi,500 ... G ... 6,405 1905 ... 8,00-1. ... 0 ... 4SO 190S ... 129,30, ) ... 5 ... 7,758 1908 ... 90,90(f , ... 5 ... 5.454 1908.. ... 92,000,'... 5 ... 5,520 In ten years, thercforej relief to the amount of £30,847.in interest and sinking fund would be obtained. It was" trap that the sinking fund might not meet all these loans, but there was not one that bore a smaller rate of interest than 5 per cent. The Corporation finance was, then • fore, not at all in a bad state, and in the course * a *£ ew yeaH Duae<l m wou'd be financially one of .the most flourishing cities in New Zealand. —(Applause.) It had been suggested in tho Press that the Council should curtail its expendiJ ure - He had been a member of the committees of the Council which principally had to do with the expenditure of the City, and he knew of no item whatever that could bo .reduced beyond what the Council had reduced it. Taking the salaries of the officers of the' Corporation, including tie town clerk, as a tast, the work of the City cost a fraction over 2£ per cent.' of revenue, which was about 16 per. cent, less than the Government paid for the collection of the customp. One officer, who had "a large amount of work and responsibility, and who had been for twenty • two years in the Corporation's employ, te» Cei J e iT *be magnificent salary of £l9O a year; and he. believed there were gentlemen in offices. ! in town who received far higher salaries for doing less than half the work performed by the town clerk, who received £450 a year. Before concluding he would wish to refer to a little personal matter. He would not have referred to the two councillors who were candidates but for a remark which Mr Hardy had made, that he (Mr Hardy) thought that Mr Gore should stand back, as he had already been mayor. Last year he (Cr Gore) was a i>roposeil candidate for the mayoralty, but one day he met Mr Swan in the street and suggested to mm that he (Or Gore) would retire if he liked to stand. Mr Swan's reply waß that he was not prepared to stand then. '1 hen Mr Hardy made an appeal to him after a Council meeting -to retire in his favor. The speaker declined to do so at that time, but having thought it over he decided to retire, and Mr Hardy thanked him for it. The result was that Mr Hardy polled about half the number of votes re« corded by the winning candidate, so that it seemed to him that Mr Hardy's time had not yet arrived. It was sixteen years since he (Cr Gore) had been Mayor of Dunedin. That was five years before Mr Hardy entered the Council and seven years before Mr Swan entered the Council. During the time the speaker occupied the mayoral chair he believed he did some little good for tho citizens—at all events, he attempted to do so. He worked very satisfactorilv ard amicably with the councillors, so muoh so that at the end of his term of office they presented him with a very nice testimonial, which he prized very much indeed. He thought therefore that he had as good a claim to election as either of the two councillors who were standing, even if he had not a better claim. With regard to the other candidate, ho was in an altogether different position. It was impossible for any man who wished to occupy the mayoral chair, without in any way qualifying for the office, to learn tho duties during the term, for he knew no man who, coming from outside the Council, could gain a knowledge of the working and detail of the departments in twelve months.—(Applause.) If Mr Cargill was elected his term of office would be up before he would understand the work he had to do. The mayor was the executive officer of the Council, who had to attend the meetings of all the committees and prepare information for the councillors. Those were very onerous duties, and if a man was not acquainted with the work of the Counoil it was impossible for him to perform them. Mr Oargill had said that any one of the councillors standing would feel more displeased to ree either of the other two councillors get in than to see him (Mr Cargill) elected, Mr Hardy had denied that, Mr Swan had denied it at tho nomination, and the speaker most emphatically denied it. He had every respeot for Mr Oargill, but he did not believe in the.principle of putting aside those who had given their services to the City and faithfully and honestly tried to do what good they could —of putting aside experience in' favor of sentiment on account of the Jubilee. Sentiment would not pay their rates nor keep the ratepayers from ha\ing largely increased burdens, and he declared that if the candidates for the mayoralty were wiped off the face of tho earth to-morrow the Jubilee would be. kept up without them. The City Council was already providing for organisation for the celebration of the Jubilee, and was inviting the co-operation of the Trades and Labor Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and other bodies, and he had no doubt that during the month of March next there would bo a very gocd week's entertainment for the citizens of Dunedin, and for the public throughout Otago as well.—(Applause.) He felt very warmly on this subject, and trusted that when the ratepayers wentto the ballot box they would notforgetthose who had worked for them, nor place such an indignity on the members of the Council as to elect over theirheads a man who for the last twenty-five years had not gone across tho street to serve the public of Dunedin.—(Applause.) It was over twenty years since he (Cr Gore) first entered the Council, and except for a few years when he was laid up he had always been doing something fir tho liublio. For three years he repre« sented Dunedin in the General Assembly, and he thought that experience would be rather advantageous to him as mayor, for it had given him a knowledge of the way to conduct business which ' he would not otherwise have so readily possessed. If he haunot felt that he was qualified to discharge the duties of the mayoralty -he would not have offered himself as a candidate. He hoped that on the election day the ratepayers would select the mayor from the members of the Counoil; and, whoever they did select, he would rest satisfied with their deoiion.—(Applause.) Being asked if he would be in favor of voting Mr Cargill the usual salary in the event of that gentleman being elected, Cr Gore said he would not be one to out the salary down, though he looked on it as an honorarium and not as something the mayor was to put in his pocket. He would not be one to put himself in snoh a false position as to allow it to be said that he had acted vindictively. There were many calls on the mayor's purse, and during the Jubilee there would be extra calls. Tho probability was that he would not vote at all if Mr Cargill was eleoted. Mr E. Howuson moved i opinion of this meeting Mr James Gore is the most fit and proper person to fill tho office of 1 mayor for the coming year." In the present state of the Corporation finances it was necessary that the mayor shonld be a man who had a grasp of tho finances, and he thought that Cr Gore, from his long experience, had that grasp. Mr Dickinson seconded the motion, whioh was carried without dissent. Ci GOEB briefly acknowledged the vote, and on his motion the usual compliment was accorded to the chairman.
Permanent link to this item
THE CITY MAYORALTY., Evening Star, Issue 10474, 18 November 1897
THE CITY MAYORALTY. Evening Star, Issue 10474, 18 November 1897
Using This Item
Allied Press Ltd is the copyright owner for the Evening Star. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence. This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Allied Press Ltd. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.