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Assessing The Cost

Assessing The Cost image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
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Probably the most important provi sion of the paving ordinance that wil come up for its third reading in the council Mondaynight is the assessmen of the cost of the wofk that is coverec by the ordinance. There will be a strong effort made by those who are so unduly impressed with the "lamentable condition of Main st., that they are willing to discount the future to meet the emergencies of the present to sad die a Iarge portion of the cost of this pavement upon the city at Iarge. ïm Demockat believes tíiat such a course would not only be an injustice to those paying taxes on other than Main st property, but a mistake in principie which we cannot afford to make at the beginning of an era of street-improvement. When the city has paid the cost of paving the street intersections, it will have paid one-fifth of the cost of the entire pavement. More than this ought not to be asked. If the owners of property on Main st. do not consider ttíis a sufíieient bonus to induce them to place a lasting improvement in front of their property, let them enjoy a few seasons more of mud and dust. The city can stand it, if they can. In the meantime, the owners of the property upon some other street may manifest more enterprise in this direction, and secureto theraselves the benefit to come from paving. Should this happen, it will not be long until Main st. property owners must pave for self-protection. The only argument that can be adduced in favor of the payment of any part of the cost of paving out of the general f und is that it would be a benefit to the city at large to have this or that particular street paved. Let us submit this argument to careful analysis. The one ground upon which other property can be justly asked to contributeto expense of paving Main st. is that it will share in the pecuniary benefits arising therefrom. Such benefits must be measured by the rental value or the selling price of the property in question. There is no other way in which they may be accurately ascertained. Yet the owner of a lot on State st., or Washtenaw ave., or W. Iluron st would have a sorry job trying to raise rents or sell for a greater price on account of Main st. being paved from Catherine to Williams. The appreciaLion in value from this source will be so small as to be invisible to the naked e y e. Nor does tMs argument of general benefit fare better when applied to streets lying in closer proximity to the pavement. For every purpose which gives valué to real estáte every piece of real property in this city is in competition with every other piece of property - competition for the occupancy of the populace for the purposes of trade or residence - and the closer the situation of the property, the closer is that competition. l'ropertysituated upon Washington st., for instance, is in direct competition for business purposes with property situated upon Main st. If the Koperty ovvners of Main st. are so 'oolish as to think for a moment that a pavement upon that street would not give them an advantage over every unjaved street in the city, let them sleep on until Washington st. has been paved and see how soon the desirable class of ;enants will seek the paved street to do business upon. Rents upon Washington st., in that case,' would rise; those upon Main st. would fall. Would there je any justice in asking Main st. property to contribute to the cost of an improvement upon Washington st. that vould be so far removed froni the naure of a benefit as to be a positive detriment? And this inequality would be quite as pronounced in the residence as in he business portion of the city. Reflect for a moment that there are 60 miles of streets in this city. To macadamize GO miles in the cheapest posible manner would cost $300,000. To do it fairly well would cost 8600,000. To do it as the board of public works nowdoes it would cost $1,200,000. It is clearly impossilile then to improve, with the sum permitted by law to be aised by general taxation, any considerable proportion of these streets withn a geiieration. Unless special assessments are resorted to only a few resi[ence streets can be macadamized. Vet the macadamizing of a residence treet is in no sense a benefit to the property abutting upon a parallel street. t serves rather to deprecíate by conrast, the property upon the unimroved street, and can in no way be onstrued to be a benelit for which that property may be justly taxed. Nor is the plea that the public enjoy he use of the pavement u valid reason 'or assessing any portion of the cost lsewhere than upon the adjacent property. We must still measure the accruing bcnefits by a pecuniary standard. The bgnefits resulting from the aying of pavement all accrue to the abutting property. They are mani'ested in increased facilities and oppor.unities fcr doiug business, increased rent for the privilege of doing business and increased price for the land upon which it is done, to all of which the public contributes sufticiently in other ways than by taxation. By all means, let the adjoining property pay for its own street improvements. Of next importance is the plan of the assessment. The increased values which all concede wili foliow street improvement accrue to one class of property only - the land. Ilence buildings, merchandise, etc., shauld be excluded, and the cost laid upon the value of the naked land which shares its proflts with no other f orm or species of property. It is manifestly unjust to tax the merchant upon nis stock of goods for street improvement that he must eventually pay for in other ways. It is also unjust to raake the owner, who has improved nis premises with a fine building, pay more than the owner of the adjacent vacant lot, when the real benefit accruing to them will be in proportion to the extent of their land and not in proportion to the improvements thereon. The foot frontage tax sometimesused in this connection is essentially a land tax, but for the purpose of paving it iraposes an inequality upon corner lots. With the simple land tax these inequalities can be adjusted to a nicety and expense put where it justly belongs.


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat