The Star. SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 1871. THE CITY COUNCIL.
The manner in which our civic representatives proceeded to make fche general rate for the year 1871 has during the last few days been very freely and not very favourably canvassed amongst the citizens, who do not complain so much of the amount as of the manner in which tbe rate was made, which they allege to be in direct violation of law, and to be the act of a majority headed by his "Worship the Mayor, determined to have their own way in defiance of the law. Without endorsing all the comments of the citizens, we are, after careful examination, compelled to admit that a gross and very serious error has been committed by the City Council in their manner of making the rate. An error the more inexcusable because most of the members of that body, including his "Worship the Mayor, have been years in office — an error of ho palpable a nature that had it been committed by a set of intelligent schoolboys of ten years of age, they would have afc once been voted worthy of a whipping — an error nofc of omission bufc of commission, in direct violation of the plain directions so clearly set forth in fche " Municipal Corporations Act, 1867." Those who read the following directions as to the manner of making rates will at once see the error into which hiß Worship the Mayor and tbe other civic dignitaries have fallen. Section 208 enacts thafc " The Council from time fco time before proceeding to make any rate which they are by this Act authorised to levy, shall cause an estimate to be prepared of the money required for the several purposes in respect of which they are authorised to expend or apply the borough fund, shewing the several sums already] available for such purposes, the several sums required, the rateable value of the property assessable, and the rate on each pound of such value necessary to raise fche money required, which estimate, after the same has been approved of by the Council, shall be forthwith entered on the rate book fco be kept aa hereinafter provided." Sec- i tion 209 says — " Notice of the intention of making every rate authorised to be made under the provisions of this Act, and of the time at, and the period for which the same is intended to be made, and of a place where a statement of the proposed rate is deposited for inspection by the ratepayers, shall be given by the Council of fche borough by placards posted up in public, and shall be advertised in some newspaper generally circulating within the borough iv the week immediately previous to such rate being made, or as nearly so as may be." It must be evident that it is fche intention of the Legislature in adopting fche
above sections that the rate should not be struck, or, in other words, the amount in the pound to be levied oe the ratepayers should not be fixed, bj the Council until after due publicity had been given in accordance witl section 209. Now, what was the course pursued r On 3rd April, the estimate and state ment required by section 208 were laic before the Council. Councillor Pratl thereupon moved %o the effect, thai notice be given, in conformity witl section 209 of the intention of the Council of striking a rate of one shilling in the pound. Had the mattebeen allowed to rest here, all might have been well ; but his Worship the Mayor, who presided, allowed Councillor Jones to move as an amendment " That a rate of tenpence in the pound be struck." A discussion ensued, which was terminated by the amendment being negatived on division, and the original motion agreed to. On the 11th April, Councillor Hart moved that a rate of one shilling in the pound be struck. Councillor Hobbs moved as an amendment, " That the rate be ninepence in the pound." And now comes the curious part of the business. The Mayor is reported to have informed Councillor Hobbs " that his amendment was out of order ; the subject was discussed at the previous meeting, and an amendment for a tenpenny rate was negatived. Consequently, the question, according to the Act, could not be re-opened ;" or, in other words, that the rate was fixed or struck at one shilling in the pound at the meeting held on 3rd April — a course, we need scarcely remark, directly contrary to the provisions oi section 209 of the Act. The error into which Mr Jameson fell was this. He should, the moment Councillor Jones moved the amendment that the rate be tenpence, have stated that it was out of order, and if Councillor Jones still persisted in it, it waß clearly his Worship's duty to have refused to put it ; but instead of doing so, he actually put the amendment to the Council, by whom it was rejected, and subsequently, at another meeting, ruled that, as Councillor Jones' amendment had been previously negatived, the question could not be reopened — or, in other words, that a rate of one shilling in the pound had been fixed on at the meeting on 3rd April, and therefore no other amendment could be moved. According to the Mayor's ruling, the rate was virtually struck on 3rd April. This ruling, which had the effect of burking the discussion of the question as to what should be the amount in the pound of the rate at the time when, according- to section 209, it ought really to be discussed, was endorsed as correct by the Council on 24th April, when on the motion of Councillor Anderson, it was resolved, " That this Council adhere to the resolutions passed on 3rd and 11th April, in connection with the striking of a one shilling rate for 1871." We have only one remark to make on this — If the Councillors were satisfied that the resolutions of 3rd and 11th April were in strict conformity with the law, why reaffirm them, especially as such a course was not required by the Ast? The truth is that his Worship the Mayor first started on the path of error, and he was blindly followed by most of th» Councillors like a flock of sheep. Luckily for them the course which they pursued will nofc prevent the recdvery of the rate, but this does not excuse the gross mistake that the Council committed — a mistake, we are happy to say, never before committed by that body.
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The Star. SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 1871. THE CITY COUNCIL., Star, Issue 909, 29 April 1871
The Star. SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 1871. THE CITY COUNCIL. Star, Issue 909, 29 April 1871
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