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Obey The Law

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Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

When the law making body of a city sets the example of a vicious disregard for constituted authority it is useless to expect the citizen in private life to be very punctilious about the observanceof regulations established by that body. If the common council of this city would have its acts meet with respectful consideration from the people it shoiüd itself first obey to the very letter the law which established that honorable body and determined the limits of its authortiy - the city charter. The common council has a right to do just what the city charter permits it to do and no more. The provisions of that instrument covering taxation and the expenditure of money are clear and explicit. If closely followed they insure to the taxpayer the best possible returns for his contributions to ;he public exchequer and any ex penditurss not made in conformity thereto are a mis-appropriation of funds. It is the clear intent of the charter that the council shall know, jefore it orders any public improvement, the probable eost and expense thereof, and that the details of its con struction shall have been previously decided upou, to the end that membei s may vote away their constituents money with their eyes open and know what they are going to get in return. It is aot within the powers of the eouncil to delégate its discretion in these matters to any officer or committee. In the discharge of the ing upon it tïie people have a right to expect that the council vvill follow the methods prescribed. Had this rule been followed in the past taxes woukl not now be so high and the people woiüd have more to show for what thej havo paid into the city treasury. The mayor complains in his message that there has been $77,917 spent upon our streets in the last eight years with little or no permanent results to show for it. For this condition the lax method of spending the Street fund is responsible. With the exception of the main sewer the charter bas been closely followed in the building of sewers. Careful estimates of cost have been, in each instance prepara! by the board of public works and the work let to the lowest bidder. As a result the people have value received for every dollar invested in sewer constrtiction. Contrast this with the results obtained from $77,917 from the street fnnd which has been thrown about hap hazard to suit the convenience of the moment. The city had a notable example o this expensive way of doing busines last summer, when, in spite of th Strenuous objections of The Dem orat, the council undertook to maci dami.e Detroit street by days pay witl out knowledge of its probable coSt. Th result was what Tile Demoobat pre dicted- a $4.000 job cost the city nearl $9,000. This shouid have opened th eyes of the council. Uut it seems eac body must learn the lesson for it self A few weeks since the present counci passed a harmless looking order fo dressing a portion of' S. üniversity ave with stom'. The street committe afterwards decided that this was no suflicient and without any furthe action of the council have enlarged th scope of the projected work to a ma cadamized street that it will cost ?300 to build. Every step thus far taken in this matter has been in flagrant viola tion of the charter. ' Not one cent o the cost of this job can be legally paid from the city treasury. People kiel because taxes are becoming higlier. They may continue to kick, but so Jong as the city council is permitted to subj stitute its disiretion for the mandates of the charter taxes will continue to rise and desired public improvements will be as far away as evrr. It is time that sotne one called a halt. Before this city can saí'ely and eco nomically undertake the work of street improvement the council must be given to understand that it must expend public money in a lawful raanner; that it cannot set the business methods prescribed by the charter aside at will, and pursue a school boy policy that is efï'ectual only in dissipating the f unds. So long as jobs of this character are ordered out of hand by the street committee without the consideration or discussion of the council, we may expect to see the street fund squandered. In the matter of opening Catherine street írom División to State, it woulc seem that in as much as the owners' of the property that will thus be made available i'or use will derive the chief benefit, they should stand the expense. The opening of this street will make ten or a dozen valuable building sites from land that is now available for nothing but potato patches. The city cannot afford to invest ia3,000 or more in a private enterprise this summer. By the time the council gets through with South University ave. the street fund will have a hole in it big enough to receive the next years levy.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat