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LOAN FOR WATER SUPPLY.

Public Mkethtg.

Last night a* public meeting was held at the Oddfellows' Hall to consider the proposal re raising a loan for a water supply to the city. There was an attendance of about 350 ratepayers, and the proceedings were occasionally eomewhat lively. The chair was taken by His Worship the Mayor; and on the platform were Councillors Vincent, Biahop, England, Hiorns, Ayers, Bowman, and Treleaven; Messrs Dobson, Ohrystall, Willis, and others. The Chairman opened the proceedings by saying that thia was the third time a scheme for water supply had been proposed. (" You won't get it.") He hoped that before ihc meeting was closed those present would be convinced that the additional rate of l|d in the £ would be no burden. (Urieß of "Ok ") The insurance ra,tes, the -watering rate, and the expenses of repairing the streets would be much lessened. There would be no neceseity for any resolution to be passed, qb the real decision would be by ballot. (" It has been settled years ago.") Not this scheme. The proposal would be explained to them by Mr Vincent, the Chairman of the Water Supply Committee ; and Mr Dobson would also give explanations of the scheme proposed. Ho had received letters of apology for nonattendance at the meeting from Councillors Louisson and Ever, who, however, approved of tho scheme.

Councillor Vincent read the following : — Wishing to have this matter discussed on its merits, i will read you what I have to say. You have already heard the purpose for which this meeting was called — namely, to discuss the proposal to borrow the sum of £60,000 for providing a water Bupply for the city j but before entering on that subject, I Bhould like to say a few words with regard to the action of certain individuals in this city, who, directly any proposal is brought forward by the Council to carry out any work for the improvement of the city, begin to agitate and assert, simply on their own authority, that we are proposing an increase in the rates. Well, gentlemen, I think I can shov you, on the contrary, that since we took office nearly three years since, we have steadily and persistently reduced the expenditure in every possible way, and whereas when we were elected there was an overdraft of £2964, there is now a credit balance of £29U0. Then, in the matter of the cost of emptying the pans, you will find on examination that in most cases there has been a very large reduction — namely, from 26s to 7a 6d par annum, and in some caeos as low as 2j 6d ; so that you cannot fairly charge ub with increasing the rates. And I would point out that it is those who are endeavouring to prevent the present proposal from being carried out who are really the persons who are the cause of increased rates, which I shall be prepared to show, and although we are compelled by law (and very properly so) to obtain the power of levying a special rate whenover a loan is obtained to pay the interest, yet there will not be tho slightest necessity fw collecting it in the present instance, as the savings on other rates, together with the amount certain to be received from those wishing to make use of the water, will fully cover the interest and working expenses ; then, if you consider the indirect benefits to be received from having a good water supply, you can have no hesitation in agreeing to the proposal, I mean.Baying in insurance premiums and utilising the sewers to the fullest extent, for which you have to pay, whether used or not. Well, gentlemen, the plan we propose is to first reticulate the city all through with pipeß which will answer for all time, then sink a cylinder, or cylinders, to the lowest stratum of artesian supply, which, when connected with the pipes, will convey the water, without any other assistance; over the whole city ; we then propose to obtain one of the Bolly Company's quadruples pumps to give the preaeure needful for extinguishing fires, of such power as to throw six lin jets 130 ft high at one time at any point within the belts. The cost of these works, as you will have seen if you have taken the trouble to read the report that has been distributed to all ratepayers, is £58,300, made up as follows .—£40,000 for reticulation, £10,000 for the pumps (which inoludes the building necessary, also fixing the maohinery, &c.),£ 3000 for wells, and the balance for engineering expenses and contingencies, leaving a balance to go towards paying the first year's interest out of loan, ft* provided for by the Act. We may fairly assume that these estimates will fully cover the 00Bt of the work. Messrs Dobson and Son having recently constructed similar works at Timaru, and carried out the works most successfully, making a very considerable saving in the estimated ooßt, are better able to judge what the coat of such a work as we propose is likely to be. In any case, there would be no chance of requiring any portion of the rates to meet interest for the next two years. The amount required at the end of that time, or rather at the end of the first six months of the third year from now, or, say Jan. 1, 1886, would be £2500, and on July 1, 1885, or three years from now, another £2500, or £5000 in all, that being the amount per annum required for interest and working expenses. As I said just now, there is not the slightest fear of the rate- | payers being called upon for any portion of the rate, as I will now proceed to show : — £ b. d. 1. We may safely estimate a saviDg on the present expenditure for fire prevention of 600 0 0 2. The cost of keeping the side-channels clean is about £1500 a-year at present, two-thirds of which we may fairly expect to save 1000 0 0 8. Then we may reckon on an amount for hotels, baths, &0.,0 f 500 0 0 4. And for general trade purposes 1000 0 0 6. And from information we have been enabled to gather, wo consider we shall be fully within tho mark to reckon upon £2000 as the receipts from tho sale of water to thoso people who have not artesian wells rising to the surface. This demand will bo sure to increase rapidly ... 2000 0 0 Total £6100 0 0 There will alao be an amount available from the rent of the present Fire Brigade Station in Lichfield Btreet, whioh would not be

required for that purpose in the event of the scheme being carried out. Well, then, gentlemen, we come to the indirect benefits, and first we will take insurance premiums. I will quote you a few cases in point. Supposing the case of a cottage insured for £100, the least reduction that can be fairly looked for is 25 per cent. Say the present rate is £1 2s 6d, there would be a saving of 5a 7d ; or, if the reduction ia only 12$ per cent, it would be 2s 9d. And as moßt people who insure their house also insure their f urnitnre, and taking that at another £50, the least saving, I take it, would be 4s 2d in the case of the smallest insurer ; but when we come to those who have heavy risks, the Baying would bo enormous. So that, even if we had to collect, say, l|d in the £ the first year, there would be no increase in the annual payment. There will also be a large indirect saving in the cost of maintenance of streetß, through boinp able to use the water supply over a larger area in dry weather for watering. I should put this item down at from £500 to £1000. I would like to quote hero, for your information, a statement made by the Chairman of Directors of the Union Insurance Company, at the general meeting of shareholders. He says:— "This, of course, is not the place to enter into a discussion on the various schemes that have from time to time been propounded for a water supply for Chrißtchurch ; but this much I will Bay, that there is no doubt at all that if a good water supply were obtained, properly owners wou*d find they would be considerable gainors, if only on their insurance premiums." (A voice : " Have you any guarantee for that from the Insurance Company?") Well, gentlemen, I do not think there is any necessity for too to go any further ; your own good sense will enable you now to see the immense advantage a water supply will bo, and all you have to do is to vote straight on the day of the poll. It has been argued by some that pumping engines require constant repairs and renewals, and that it would be incumbent on the Council, if. this scheme were carried out, to pass votes for large Bums for that purpose, without baying received one item of profit. Well, gentlemen, I can only cay whoever makes such a statement Bhows how little he knows of the matter. If the wear and tear on the engines is so great as he would have yeu believe, then I can tell you there would be a corresponding item of profit, as that would be evidence of pretty well the whole of the inhabitants making use of the water, otherwise the engines would have a mere nominal amount of work to perform, and, therefore, woar and tear would be nil. Others have thrown a doubt on the calculations of Messrs Dobeon and Bon, with regard to the annual outlay, but others besides them, and gentlemen whose opinion is entitled to some weight, are satisfied that sufficient has been allowed. If you havo any questions to ask, the Engineer is here to answer them. (Confusion.)

Mr Atkinßon would like to know if the Engineer would undertake to carry out the scheme for the money now proposed. The fact would be that when the £60,000 was spent, £100,000 more would be wanted. It would be the same with the water scheme as it had been with the drainage scheme. (Applauee.) It would depend upon the people whether they were to be dHped. He had been thirty years in tho Colonies and recommended his fellow- workmen not to be ruled by the Council in this matter. (Applause.) He hoped someone bettor able than himself would come forward and speak against this obnoxious tax. (Applause.) Mr Samuel Clarkson, who waß received with loud applause, said his property had been quoted in Mr Vincent's statement. He expected to Bee Councillor Hulbert presently come out from behind the scenes, for that gentleman bad told him that day that the figures had been run out and he (M r Clarkeon) would gain "sixteen bob." The laßt scheme had been proposed by Champion Oherill k who had since sold his property and gone Home, where he would not have had a penny to pay. (Laughter ani applause.) He (Mr Olarkson) challenged Councillor Vincent to deny that his premises had been quoted. Councillor Vincent : " Why should I deny

Mr Olarkson ha<i his premises valued at £214. But how did Councillor Vincent know what he paid for insurance r 4 Ho was insured for £1500, at 22s 6d, equal to £16 17s 6d. All the reduction he would get would be £2 2s sd, and he would have to pay £23 to get the water laid on to his premises. The cost of flushing the streots was not £1500, but only £200 a-year ; the sweeping of the streets would not be done by the water. (Applause.) As to the Fire Brigade, where was their necessity for moro water ? In the Ward to which he belonged, the South-east Ward, there were five tanks ; in tho North-east Ward there was one tank and tho Gloucester Street School bath. (" And the river.") In the South-east Ward there was the river and one tank, and in tho Southwest Ward, the river and the West Christchurch School bath. He would ask the Chairman if the loan was to bo raised here or at Home. The Waimakariri Conservators paid 8 and 9 per cent for their loan. (Applause.) The Chairman -• We should negociate it in the oheapest market ; and at tho most we should not pay more than 5 or 6 per cent for it. (Applause.) Air oWkson did not blame tho Council for their proposal ; those gentlemen thought they were right. But had he been a member of the Council or the Mayor, he would have said, " Don't try it yet, wait a few years." He had taken round a petition about the drainage scheme, and it was 26 feet long. (Applause.) How was it that the more valuable Ohristohurch property beoame the higher the taxation was ? It was not true that the rates were 2s ssd ; they were 2s 6}d in the £. (Shame.) With regard to the soheme, Mr Dobson showed a debtor total of £10,625, but he (Sir Olarkson) would show how he was some £7000 out in his statement. (Applause.) Mr Dobeon gave on the credit side a saving of £1000 on the Fire Brigade and engines, and £500 on watering the streets. This £1000 was to come from the rates, but which rate of the 2a 6|d was to be reduced t (Applause) The saving on watering would be just in the centre of the City, and no saving to the rest of the ratepayers. Mr Dobson was going to rate the people, and then sell the water for £2125. The statement showed an error of £7000. (Applause.) They would have to sell £9126, besides being rated. (Councillor Vincent here tried to explain that Mr Clarkson misunderstood the statement.) He only took the figures as printed in the book which had been circulated. (Applause.) They had been told that in Oamaru they paid 4s 6d for water ; but had Oamsru the artesian wells? Besides, the valuations there were half what they were in Ohristchuroh. Could the poor man afford to pay more taxes F (No.) He could not think what the Oounoil meant by wishing to thrust moro taxation down their throats. (Applause.) Though the Chairman said no reaolutien was to be put, he would move one to whioh no objeo tion could be made. It was — " Xhat in order to obtain a full expression of public opinion in reference to the water supply, a vote of the ratepayers shall be taken upon some day to be fixed by the City Council ; and in order that no ratepayer shall be able to complain of insufficient knowledge, a postal card be sent to every ratepayer. (The resolution concluded with a suggested form for the notice to be sent by post.) The Chairman said the matter would have to be settled by ballot, and due notice would be given of the day. Besolutions would only interfere with the ballot, and he must decline to put any. (Great uproar.) Mr Olarkson would lay £1 to £60 that half the people of Christchuroh did not know of the present meeting. (Applause.) Tha Council's advertisements were put in the morning papers, and the people read the evenißg papers. It would only oost £10 to send the postal cards ; and if he was challenged to do it he would pay the money himself. (Loud applause.) Mr E. Willis had a resolution to propose. The fßctra rate meant Is in the £ before the job wm completed. The Holly system would pump away all the artesian water. The Council would be better employed in looking after tho inspection of the city than in bringing forward water sgpply schemes. The rate ■ collector colled upon him, but no inspector. (Applause.) He would move— "That we, the ratepayers of Ohristohurch, having what ; we deem a sufficient supply of water for domestio, sanitary, and fire -prevention pur« poses, consider it unnecessary to burden the j taxpayers with an additional loan, having already an extraordinary amount of taxation, both local and general ; and therefore do protest against the action of the City Council in proposing to borrow the sum of £60,000 for water-supply." The Chairman declined to put the resolution. (Turn him out.)

Several persons seconded the resolution. Tho Chairman had given his reasons why the resolution should not be put. He was there to conduot the meeting. (Confusion.) Mr Bcatty here attempted to address the meetion, but was mot with cries of " Roaolution."

Mr Olarkson said the Chairman was backed up by his friends behind. He (Mr Olarkson) would move — " That His Worship leavo the chair while the resolution is put." (Immense oheering.) Mr D. Reose seconded Mr Clarkson's motion proformd, in order to express an opinion on the conduct of the Chairman. His Worship was acting with bad grace in calling a publio meeting to discuss a scheme, and forbidding a resolution upon it to be put. (Loud applause.) He (Mr Reese) deprecated the system at present obtaining of Councillors being elected without coming before the ratepayers and giving their opinions upon important questions. (Loud applause.) No city in the Colonies had so magnificent a supply of water as Christohuroh for domestic purposes, and the present scheme was too small for other purposes, unless it included the whole of the suburbs. The lowest coat for a comprehensive scheme would be £200,000, and the suburbs should pay their share ; the whole cost should not fill upon the comparatively small area of the city. (Applause.) The present^ rates were out of proportion to any oity in the Colonies. No citizen could complain of his property being undervalued. (Laughter.) They were told always that by-and bye the rates would be reduced, but in spite of all the promises, the rates were steadily increased and .increasing. (Applause.) Ho was very sorry to see any Chairman refuse to put a resolution to a publio meeting in Christchurch. (Applause.) The Chairman, who on rising was loudly hinged, said he could not leave the chair. (Great uproar and stamping of feet.) If it was the wish of tho meeting, he would put the resolution. If it was of any use, he would have put it at onoe, but the question would have to be decided by ballot. (Confusion.) Mr H. B. Nathan had an amendment to propose— " That this meeting adjourn to a future date, and that it be properly advertised." They must not be gulled. If his motion were agreed to, the ratepayer* would have time to consider the resolutions, which no doubt would appear in the newspapers, though they were not put to the meeting. (Confusion.) The amendment was not seconded. The resolution of Mr Willis was hero put and carried by a large majority. (Loud cheers.) Mr Clarkson then asked that his resolution should be put ; it was a fair and legitimate one, and as muoh in favour of the Council as of their oppononts. (Applause.) Mr J. P. Oliver, in a short speech, seconded the resolution of Mr Clarkson. Mr Reese explained that he disclaimed seconding the resolution, simply because former votes of the ratepayers had clearly shown that no loan would be sanctioned. Tho resolution juat passed showed the same thing. Let the question be boldly put at the next election of the Oity Councillors, and let the candidates be instructed on the matter by the voteß of the ratepayers. (Applause.) The Chairman said the notice of the meeting ht»d been advertised according to law. It had appeared eleven times in the papers. He would, however, put the resolution. The resolution was put and carried by a large majority. The Ohairman then called upon Mr Dobßon to answer a few questions. Mr Malcolm thought it would be very unfair to ask Mr Dobson any questions. (Applause.) Tho Chairman said there was then no other business before the meeting. He was a heavy ratepayer and so was each of the Councillors. They had been asked by many of the citizens to propoße the loan. (Cries of 11 Who are they ?" and confusion.) He was quite satisfied that the water soheme would result eventually in a revenue and not a tax. (No.) He now declared the meeting dosed. Mr Willis moved a vote of thanks to the chair. (Cries of " No," and confusion j amid which the meeting broke up.)

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Bibliographic details

LOAN FOR WATER SUPPLY., Star, Issue 4430, 6 July 1882

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3,421

LOAN FOR WATER SUPPLY. Star, Issue 4430, 6 July 1882

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