« PředchozíPokračovat »
cent, and in subsequent years shall not exceed by more than twelve
The purpose of this legislation is to keep the great increase in valuations (effective this year) from leading to an increase in expenditures. The exact effect of some provisions of the law are in dispute and this summary is only a general description of its intent.
The tax commission law of 1910 was also revised, strengthening the powers of the commission, especially in the enforcement of the "excise” taxes on corporations.
Miscellaneous. Special tax commissions have been authorized in several states. In Michigan a commission of three members, investigating particularly corporation taxes, was appointed and is nearly ready to report. In Utah a commission of three was authorized to revise the revenue laws of the state. In Iowa a commission of five was authorized and appointed to investigate taxation generally, and report to the governor in October, 1912.
In Connecticut the governor is directed to appoint a commission of three to examine into the methods of taxation of railways and street railways, and of other corporations paying taxes to the state, to report in 1912.
The Pennsylvania commission of 1909 submitted a report and was continued. The Rhode Island commission of 1909 submitted a second report and continues. Delaware authorized a commission, to report in 1913; this is a continuation of the 1907 commission. The Maryland and Virginia commissions of 1910 continue and report in 1912.
Idaho has given an exemption of $200 to all buildings.
In Pennsylvania the classification of real estate within city limits into city, suburban and agricultural, to be taxed at varying rates, was abolished in second-class cities (Pittsburgh and Scranton), but continues in Philadelphia. The system had produced most glaring inequalities. Ontario also abolished a somewhat similar "farm land exemption" in cities.
While not, perhaps, strictly tax legislation, two other matters affecting public revenues may be of interest.
Massachusetts and New York will submit to the people this fall, constitutional amendments designed to permit “excess condemnation." That is, to empower a city, subject to general law, to condemn more land than is actually needed for a public improvement such as a new street or park. Massachusetts limits the area to a depth sufficient for building lots. The purpose is to give the city control over the
development of such abutting property by perhaps reshaping the lot lines, and also to get back some of the cost of such an improvement by leasing or selling this property at an increased value due to the improvement.
The provincial legislature of Ontario, not being hampered by constitutional limitations, enacted a statute giving cities broad powers of "excess condemnation."
The new conservation law of New York provides (among other things) for the building of reservoirs and development of water-power to be leased by the state, and provides also that the cost of such improvement may be assessed upon either individual property or upon an entire district deemed to profit thereby.
This general summary of tax legislation does not include all tax law changes, and some omitted may be more important to the locality or interest affected, than others which have been included because they illustrate general tendencies rather than because they are in themselves important.
These tendencies may be summed up briefly. First, greater freedom for legislatures from constitutional restraints on the taxing power; second, a recognition of the failure of the general property tax, and the substitution of classification for the so-called “uniform rule"; third, changes from ad valorem to specific taxes; fourth, to improve assessment by establishing state tax commissions with supervisory powers, and also by improving local assessment conditions.
A. C. PLEYDELL.
CURRENT MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS
WILLIAM BENNETT MUNRO
The Metropolitan Plan Commission appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts under statutory authority given to him at the last legislative session, has announced in general form the chief recommendations which it proposes to incorporate in its forthcoming report. This commission, which consists of Edward A. Filene, J. Randolph Coolidge, Jr., and John Nolen, has made a careful study of municipal planning boards and their operations in European and American cities. Their provisional recommendations are for the establishment of a permanent state commission with planning jurisdiction over the Boston Metropolitan District which comprises thirty-eight cities and towns. This permanent commission would be composed of five members, three to be appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts and two by the Mayor of Boston, the chairman to have a salary of $10,000 per annum and the other members to be paid $1,000 each. It is proposed to give this commission a general supervisory authority over the planning of all streets, parks, boulevards, and similar public works throughout the Metropolitan District; the commission would be expected to draft a comprehensive scheme of future development covering all construction undertaken out of public moneys whether by the state or by any municipality. It is not proposed that the Metropolitan Plan Commission, if established on a permanent basis, shall have any power directly to undertake improvement projects or to compel any municipality to put its plans into operation; but it would be given power to interpose a temporary veto upon all municipal construction not in harmony with general plans for the whole metropolitan district. It is further proposed that towards the cost of all metropolitan enterprises undertaken in conformity with plans of the commission, a grant of ten per cent of the estimated expense shall be made from the state treasury. All these recommendations have been incorporated in a bill which will come before the Massachusetts legislature early in 1912.
The November election campaign in Philadelphia resulted in the choice of Mr. Rudolph Blankenburg as mayor of the city. At the
primary election which preceded the regular polling, the regular Republican organization chose as the head of its ticket Mr. George H. Earle, Jr. The support given to this candidate at the primaries indicated the likelihood of his election; but the vacillating course which he pursued during the weeks preceding the election and the public opposition which was aroused against the so-termed Penrose machine served greatly to weaken his support. Mr. Blankenburg, who represented the anti-machine influences of the city, won by a substantial majority, although somewhat to the surprise of his own chief sponsors. The outcome is a signal triumph for the cause of improved civic administration in Philadelphia where an unscrupulous group of Republican politicians have for many years exerted far too much influence at City Hall. Mr. Blankenburg is the first Philadelphia mayor in recent years to go into office without pledges to any party organization and his administration has at the outset shown promise of striking success. A significant feature of the new régime is the readiness with which the higher city officials are enlisting the coöperation of the Philadelphia Bureau of Municipal Research in a study of the finances of the city. The Bureau in connection with this work has issued a comprehensive digest of the city's budget estimates for 1912, which forms a printed document of over one hundred and sixty pages.
On November 8, at the regular municipal election, the voters of Cleveland ratified certain amendments to an ordinance passed December 18, 1909, and known as the Tayler Grant, entitled “An ordinance giving a renewal of the street railway grants of the Cleveland Railway Company, fixing the time and conditions of such renewal grant, changing the rates of fare, regulating transfers, and terminating existing grants.” These amendments may be summarized as follows: Section 16, as amended, provides that the capital value of the company's property for the purposes of fixing the rate of fare and determining the return to the company and the price at which the property may be purchased by the city, shall consist of the bonded indebtedness, the floating indebtedness, and the residue of the capital value in the sum of $14,675,600. Additions to the capital value may be made pursuant to the terms of the ordinance. Section 19 creates an interest fund, in its inception to consist of $500,000, to which shall be added monthly the sum remaining after the deduction from gross receipts of eleven and one half cents per car mile for each revenue mile and sixty per cent of that for trailers, together with the amounts
deducted from gross receipts for maintenance, renewal, and depreciation accounts. From the fund thus provided, taxes, interest, and dividends are to be paid as required in the ordinance-interest on bonds at the rate of five per cent per annum, on floating debt at six per cent, and on the residue of the capital value at six per cent per annum. Section 21 provides that the foregoing amounts per car mile may be changed, if necessary, by agreement between the company and the city. Such changes may be required to enable the company to meet its legitimate operating expenses. On the other hand, any surplus remaining unexpended for operating expenses at the end of a year must be turned into the interest fund. Section 28 gives to the company and the city the right to propose extensions, betterments, and permanent improvements under specific conditions. The proposals made by the company must be ratified by the city council while those advanced by the city must be carried into execution, unless the company contends that it is unable to secure the requisite funds in which case there shall be an arbitration of the matter. The same section provides that immediately on the taking effect of the ordinance the company shall expend $2,500,000 in such improvements as may be designated by the city. Nothing is to be added to the capital value of the property on account of the aforementioned improvements without the consent of the city. In section 32, the company by acceptance of the ordinance, agrees with the city that the latter at any time during the grant or any renewal of it, may exercise the right to take over the system, operated by the Cleveland Railway Co., by serving six months' notice of such an intention. The price shall include the capital value of the property plus ten per cent, the city at the same time assuming all the obligations of the company, enumerated in detail in the ordinance. If the city shall not have purchased at the expiration of the grant, it may then do so under the same conditions as above set forth, except that the ten per cent shall not be added to the capital value and the value of those parts of the system lying without the city shall be deducted and the city may require such outlying parts of the system to be conveyed to such person or corporation as it may designate. Finally, if at the expiration of this grant franchises shall be granted to others than the existing company to operate over its lines, the said companies shall be obliged to purchase the property owned by the existing company upon the same terms laid down for the city.