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publication is of great interest and value to students of municipal government; but both of these qualities are greatly impaired when the printed figures do not appear until three years after they have been collected. It is much to be regretted that adequate appropriations for this useful undertaking are not being made at the proper time.
The last report of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia contains a discussion of the water supply of the national capital and deals particularly with the question of metered service. Through the Pitometer service for waste detection, the Commissioners report that an underground leakage amounting to about six million gallons per day was discovered and stopped. The installation of new meters during the year 1911 has brought the proportion of metered service up to 29 per cent of the whole supply. The Commissioners recommend that arrangements should be made to meter the balance of the whole system within the next six years. To provide for the cost of this new equipment they believe that water rates ought to be increased from July 1, 1912. The Commissioners point out that the water charges in Washington are now lower than those of any other American city; the minimum rate at present being $4.50 per year. Unless some step of this sort is taken the Commissioners believe that a new aqueduct will shortly be necessary, but by metering the entire service the per capita consumption can be so reduced that the present supply would serve a population double that now inhabiting the District.
Mayor Fitzgerald has laid before the Boston City Council a proposal to consolidate the Park, Public Grounds, Bath, and Music Departments of the city. The plan provides for a single department to be known as the Department of Public Recreation, under the control of three commissioners to be appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the State Civil Service Commission. The chairman of the commission, who must be "an architect with landscape experience,” is to have a salary of $7500 per year. The other commissioners are to be paid $4000 each. In a communication addressed to the various civic organizations of Boston, Mayor Fitzgerald points out that the work of these four branches is intrinsically of the same nature, and that while there has been no open friction among them, the present system prevents the city from securing that correlation of services which is necessary for good service and economy. It is generally agreed that Boston has at present too many administrative departments, there
being twice as many in Boston as in New York, Chicago or Philadelphia. It is probable that the proposal will be accepted by the City Council.
The new Cambridge Subway which extends from Park Street, Boston, to Harvard Square, Cambridge, was opened at the beginning of April. The tunnel, which is about three and a half miles in length, was built by the Boston Elevated Railway Company at a cost of approximately ten millions. The running time from Harvard Square to Park Street is eight minutes. Legislative authority has been obtained for the construction of two other subways in Boston, one of them extending from Park Street to Andrew Square in Dorchester by way of the South Fenway, the other from Boylston Street to Charlesgate on the way to Brookline. It is estimated that the cost of these two subways, together with the new equipment made necessary, will be about $20,000,000.
The organization known as "Boston 1915” has been formally disbanded. The avowed purpose of this movement was to secure some degree of co-operation among the many civic organizations of the Boston metropolitan district. In this it was to some degree successful, having brought the more important civic associations into an informal coalition.
By a large majority the voters of Los Angeles on May 28 adopted an initiative ordinance empowering the municipal authorities to make a thorough appraisal of all street railway values within the municipality as a preliminary to regulating the rates of fare.
The long talked of amalgamation of the electric tubes and railroads of London with the London General Omnibus Company has been finally carried through. The properties owned by the companies concerned in the new amalgamation represent a value of $175,000,000 and the merger will go into effect as soon as the shareholders have ratified the provisional arrangement. To all intents and purposes the London transportation system will henceforth be worked as though it were a single unit. Through tickets will be issued entitling passengers to use either underground or surface transportation as may be necessary. Timetables have been arranged throughout the entire metropolitan district and provisions have been made for close con
nections at all points where different systems of transportation come into contact.
The government of the Indian Empire has decided to secure a modern plan for Delhi, the new capital. The conditions at Delhi are such as to afford an unusual opportunity in the matter of city planning, and the imperial government has engaged Mr. J. A. Brodie, the city engineer of Liverpool, to take charge of the planning. Delhi has a population of about 230,000, but the area upon which the new capitol will be located is still undeveloped and it is altogether probable that the transfer of the seat of government to the city will more than double its population within a few years.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, has had a rather trying experience in public ownership of telephones. A few years ago the government of the province purchased the lines of the Bell Telephone Company and undertook to operate them as a public enterprise. Three years of operation have proved that the service cannot be maintained under public supervision at the rates formerly charged by the company. Consequently, a large increase in telephone charges was put into operation on April 1, 1912. It is estimated that in the case of business telephones in Winnipeg the change will nearly double the cost of telephone service to patrons. Before the introduction of public ownership, however, the Bell Telephone Company made substantial profits at the old rate of charges.
A proposal framed by initiative petition will be submitted this year to the voters of Missouri providing for a constitutional amendment classifying taxable property into four groups as follows: (1) personal property; (2) improvements on land; (3) land independent of improvements; (4) the franchise values of public service corporations. The proposed amendment provides that taxes on the improvements on land shall be gradually reduced until 1920, when they shall be entirely abolished. Provision is further made that all property subject to taxation shall be assessed at its actual value without any deductions whatever, and furthermore, that no poll tax or business taxes shall be imposed within the state.
As a first step in the introduction of economies, the City of Bridgeport, Conn., has established a Board of Contract and Supply to take
charge of all municipal purchases. The City Council has also authorized the Mayor to appoint a Committee of Audit, composed of three citizens. This Committee is given power to investigate and examine into the whole financial system of the city and has charge of the task of installing a uniform system of accounting. An appropriation of $20,000 has been made for the use of the Committee of Audit, which has secured as its expert adviser Mr. Peter White of St. Louis, who is now consulting accountant of the Chicago Bureau of Public Efficiency.
The Indianapolis Board of Trade proposes the establishment of a municipal advisory commission for that city. This commission would be made up of five members appointed for a five-year term by the Board of Trade, the Commercial Club, the Merchants' Association, the Manufacturers' Association, and the Indianapolis Trade Association. The duties of the commission would be to obtain information concerning franchises sought from the city, contracts, proposed loans, and various other public proceedings. On such things it would make recommendations to the city authorities.
For the purpose of arousing interest in the question of municipal home rule, the Municipal Association of Cleveland published some time ago a report entitled, “Constitutional Home Rule for Ohio Cities." The report is a concise summary of conditions under the older règime of special legislation and under the present plan of rigid uniform legislation. It points out the objections to both systems, made obvious by Ohio's experience, and recommends municipal home rule as the only reasonable solution of the problem.
Shortly after the publication of this report there met in Columbus the Ohio Municipal Home Rule Conference, composed of 136 delegates representing 53 Ohio cities. This conference recommended to the Constitutional Convention a model constitutional provision, embodying its ideas upon the subject of municipal home rule. By this provision the General Assembly is given power, (1) to provide for the incorporation and government of cities by general laws and may also pass special acts which, however, may not go into effect for thirty days, within which period a referendum may be secured in the municipality affected by the proposed act; (2) it is provided that “any city or village may frame and adopt a charter for its own government and may exercise thereunder all powers of local self-government; but all such charters shall be subject to the general laws of the State except in
municipal affairs.” A small minority of the conference who objected to this section, submitted as a substitute the following: “Any city or village may frame and adopt a charter for its own government in the manner prescribed in Section 3 of this article, and may exercise thereunder all powers of local self-government, including the power to acquire, own, construct, and operate any public utility, subject, however, to the right of the General Assembly to pass general laws affecting the welfare of the State as a whole." It was believed by the Conference that the first quoted provision would more nearly secure the autonomy of cities in municipal matters. The second proposal would certainly be open to a judicial interpretation exceedingly favorable to the control of the General Assembly. (3) Sections 4 and 5 of the provision give to the municipalities authority to make regulations regarding education and the exercise of police power when not in conflict with the general laws of the State. (4) Section 6 provides that the municipality may acquire, construct, own, or operate public utilities. (5) Section 7 provides for the manner in which the city shall frame its charter and amendments thereto. (6) Finally, sections 8 and 9 limit the taxing powers of cities and provide that the General Assembly may require reports from municipalities as to their financial conditions and transactions.
Before adjournment the Conference resolved itself by the adoption of a constitution into the Ohio Municipal League with Mayor Newton D. Baker, of Cleveland, as president, Mr. Elliott Pendleton, of Cincinnati, as first vice-president; and Mr. Mayo Fesler, of Cleveland, as secretary.
The Municipal Government Association of New York State was organized at Albany in January last. Its declared objects are to promote the cause of municipal home rule, to secure the enactment of a general statute enabling cities of the state to adopt self-made charters, and to work for the elimination of national party designations from the municipal ballot.
The New York Board of Estimate and Apportionment has made an appropriation of $200,000 for the establishment of a fire prevention bureau. This bureau, which is to be under the control of the fire commissioner, will undertake a comprehensive study of various possible measures for the reduction of the city's fire hazard.