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Editor Courier: The law requires, as you wcll know, our board of supervisors at their aunual session in üctober to equalize tlie valuation of the sevcral tovvuships of the connty so that each district shall bearltsjust proportion ef State and county taxes. Now, if you can carefully read the history of this equalization business tor the last twenty years, and not come to the conclusión tliat the whole thing is a complete huinbug, yon are more fortúnate than I am. And yet I am wBBng to concede that the several supervisor-districts as a rule elect their best men for supervisors. They are men of brainsand intellect, and can be trusted In all the common walksof Ufe. More than that, they are all under oath of office. And yet I have never knoivn a supervisor to speak or vote against the adoption of a report on equalization, on theground that his district was ratecl too low. They are only human after all. Now, with your leave, I will try to explain this equalization business a little, and point out to you If I can. at least oue Btroug objection to the mode which ha obtalned in thl eounty fer SQ. fnany ye#rs, ow the ruie bas been for the cha'u - 11. an of the board of Supervisors to appolnt a oomniittcy on cijualization of five or seven meiiibers. If he limit the nuniber to five he is quite likely to beinstructel to iuurease tlie numbcr to seven, and yoy ijjiiy fut well cali it eight for this cominiüee wlio are indebtcd to the chairman forth.eii appointment,considertheniselves in honor boundto see that he does not suffer in tliu equalization of his districts and he is not likely to. I remember but one instance in twenty years where the chairnmn was slaughtered in the house of lus frieuds. Now the larger the committee is, the reater the danger tbat some districts will suffer the burdeii of an unjust taxation, for this committee of seven or eight including the chairman, virtually determine their own valuation, for tliey have eight votes to secure the acloption of their own report on their own equalization. If they had five votes more they need r.otask the board for any favors. Of course evfciy one of this committee has an ax to grind, that is if he or his predecessor in office bas n'ot previously ground it so sharp that it is a dangerous tooi to handle. If I were an artist I would dmw a picture of one of these committees as they appeared to me in the equalization room many years ago. I think an outsider if he were not an aggrieved tax payer would be higlily amused to see seven, noble, honest and dignified supervisors all perseveringly pressing their axes on the eounty grindstone and singing in chorus in the mean time the following comforting words: 'This is the way I long have songlit. And inourned because I found it not." But we will suppose now that this committee bas finished its labors so far hs their own equalization is concerned, and each member congratulates himself that he has a good tliing for bis own township. If the committee's report prevails, as he iá eonfident it will, he can go home to his constituents with a beaming countenance, bis face all wreathed in smiles, and announce to theni the glad news tbat their taxes will be lower this year. Yes, oh yes, says he, " I managed to get on the equalization committee this year, and then of course I fixed my own tenns." But 1 have said that this committee virtually bas eight votes, and they only lack five more to carry their report, rightor wrong, just or unjust. Now if this committee is what is caueu an auie one tuey win not bc long in convincing five brother metnbers by strong logical argumenta tbat they tw good, fair Cernu of equslteatton, and if tliey tliink it is all risrlit thcy may enforce their argument by a little more retluction, for the property of the whole county is at tlieir conimand except what tliey have appropriated to their own use. But if after all the committee has any doubts about the safety of their report they can if tliey wish, order the reportjread over again to see if it is possible to find any district which is rated too lovv, so as to endanger the adoption of their report by the board. Of course t does not occur to them that perhaps they might find just what they want right at home. After the reading is fluished one member perhaps suggests that Northfield - too low,and ouglit to take $30,000 more. This propositiou being acquiesced in by a majority of the committee, a motion is made to add that sum to Northfield. But one member wlio bas never perhaps been on an equalization committee before ventures the sage rëmark that if they add $30,000 to Northfield they will lose the vote of that township. But bis statement is not noticedfur itis unwortliy the consideration of bonest men. So the $30,000 is added to Northfield. Now I wish the reader to bear in mind that if one township is raised in valuution another township, or tcwnships, must be lowered. The committee bas now on hand a surplus of $30,000, and the question is what to do with it? The committee cant take any more reduction ; they are perfectly gorged with it. But one of the experts of the committee uggests perhaps that he knows of threetownships which are rated too high, and the benefit of the $30,000 which bas been added to Northfield isdividedequally among them. Perhaps these townships have never received a benefit before and their supervisors are overwhelmed with gratitude. The result of all this is that while the committee has lost the vote of Northfield, they have gained the votes of three other townships and the adoption of their report by the board is now insured. Who will not sympathize with those supervisors whose districts have been left out in thecoldf "They bave run their race, and got no grace," and it is enough to melt a heart of stone to hear them sing al the close of the session, when leaving for their homes, the plaintive song : "Come on my partners In dtstress My comrades tnrough this wilderness Wno still your luxes feel. They go home chagrined and disgraced and mortified to think that they will have to spread taxes on their rolls for their constituents to pay, which they know belong to otber districts, I remember once when I was on the committee of equalization, we had finisbed the work given us to do and bad all signed our report, congratnlating ourselves that we had one of the fairest and most impartía! reports which hul ever been presen ted to the board for its adoption. But, alas! for human hopes, for scarcely had the reading of our report before the board been finished, when a brother member, whose early religious education had, no doubt, been sadly nerlected, reinarked in an undertone " that every d d cuss on that committee had bettered his own condition." Ot course in my own case it was all riglit. for Salem had been left out in the cold a great many years, but it struck me as a strange coincidence that seven supervisors on one committee should all be in the same uiihappy condition. But the question arises, if these things are so, is there any reniedy? I am not here to ansvver. I have merely written this article for the purpose of calling the attention of our present board of supervisors to these abuse?, hoping that they in their wisdom will devise some means to correct them. The whole matter Is in their hands. But every tax payer has a right to be heard on this question. Without presuming to dictate to the board at all I would simply suggest that in my very huuible opinión a step in the right direction would be to have the committee on equalization consist of one member, to be elected by the board, and not appointed by the chairman, instead of a comtnittee so large that they virtually have the power of enforcinc their own equalization, even if the rest of the county have to pay half their taxep. Yours truly, Ank Abbob, Muy I, 1883.


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News