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A New City Charter

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The Ann Arbor Business men's association met a committee of the common council in the council room, last Friday evening, the committee having in charge the work of' drafting a new charter for Ann Arbor. The committee consists of Mayor Beakee, Aldermen Allmendinger, Winee, and Kearns, and City Attorney King. It was moved by H. J. Brown that, on account of defects in the present is thesenseof the Business meu's association that a new charter, better adapted to our present requirements, ihould be adopted, and the motion was carried. Mayor Beakea and Aid. Allmendinger read and explained the most important portions of the proposed new charter. The committee has done some hard work in its preparation, Consulting numerous charters in the state, and their job is practieaily done, except that some legal gentleman must wrinkle his legal brow over every sentence to discover possible contradictions and errors. Then it will be in shape to present to the legislature. Remarks were made by Frederick Schmid, Z. P. King, Moses Seabolt, and others, and a few minor changes were sug gested and incorporated. On the whole the association seemed pleased with the proposed charter. A. L. Noble, Frederici Schmid, Moses Seabolt, E. K. Frueauff and H. J. Brown were named as a com mittee to confer with the council's com mittee. FINANOES IN THE NEW CHARTER. The present charter of Ann Arbor is dear to many partly because of its age, and partly because, with all its antiquated and dangerous and weak provisions, it has had one good feature, that of limiting the taxing power. It has kept the city out of debt, certainly a very desirable thing, and the rate of taxation in Ann Arbor is exceedingly low. This has been a matter of great rejoicing to the citizen who cared little for improving the city, a&d it is something which properly commended the charter to all. To those who happened to know from actual expenence how the charter worked in the expenditure of what money was raised by taxation; how careless are its provisions fur the safe-keeping of the city's money; and how it discourages the placing of the best men in the council, that venerable document has not eeemed a joy forever. On the contrary, it has been the cause of much forcible language not sufBciently polite to appear in these columns. The committee haa retained the valuable feature of the present charter which limita the taxing power. As at present no more than that specified can be raised for city purposes without a special act of the legislature, or without special authorization by vote of the property taxpayers. This retention must certainly disarm nearly all criticism on the score of taxation. The present charter permits the raising annually of $6,000 for general purposes ; $2,000 for street and highway purposes ; and $1,000 in eachward for highway purposes. The new charter has but one tax, that of 5 milis on the dollar of assessed TaluatioD. This rate is the lowest in Michigan. Lansing's charter permits the raising of 8 mille; Adrain, milis. This low rate of taxation, coupled with the check which has been so long tried, ought to be satisfactory to the taxpayers of Ann Arbor. The new charter retains the method now used íd collecting taxep. A clause has been introduced to prevent rich res idents ot' Ann Arbor escaping taxation by claiming a residence in some township. One especially notorious case of that kind flourished here for years. Ann Arbor lost the tax on a large ainount of property, and a certain township taxed but a small portion of it, while the citizen really lived in this city. No such dodge as that will work under the new charter. The person trying it wiil be taxed here if he does not bring proof of iull and fair taxation elsewhere. THE MAYOR OF ANN ARBOR. Under the present charter the mayor is a slightly enlarged alderman; that's all. Some of the worst evils of government in the large citieB have beeu overeóme by granting the mayor larger power, and making him directly reaponsible to the people at each recurring spring eleotion. This plan has been wisely adopted in the new charter. Uoder it the mayor will be 8omething more than a figure head. He will praclically have the executive work of the city in hia hands, and if anything goes wrong, the citizens at ihe next election will know more certainly where to place the responsibility. He will appoint the marshal, city attorney, city treasurer, the pólice, and members of boards, all heretofore appointed by the council. He will also have the power to suspend or remove the marshal or pólice, all subject, of course, to confirmation by the common council. The city marshal will not be allowed to go out of the city without consent of the mayor, except in pursuitof some one escaping from justice. The ztayor's vote is taken away except in case of a tie. He will have the veto power ; in fact Ann Arbor will have a real mayor. The committee's draft left the mayor's salary at the present munificent sumof $1, but the Business men's association is composed of gentlemen who don't want to get something for nothing, and they insisted upon increasing it just $199. THE CITY RECORDER. Beg pardon ! City clerk. Ann Arbor, besides having a mayor that is a mayor, will have a city clerk instead of a recorder, if the proposed charter carnes. And he will amaunt to something, too. Hiswork will be so great and varied that he must have an office in Fireman's hall, where the records of the city can be kept. The city clerk will have to stay there during customary office hours. No man fit to be recorder or city clerk can afford to do that now, and henee one who wants to do business with that functionary in a hurry has had to seour the city to find him. Occasionally a recorder was obtained who had an office of his own where he carried on another business, and by uniting the two, he was usually to be found during business hours. That is the case at present. But the work and status of this office are unsatisfactory. The clerk's salary is fixed by the committee at $860, which, with chattel mortgage and license fees, will amount to about $900. At the meeting Friday evening, H. J. Brown moved that it be fixed at $1,000 without fees, but it was lost by a small majority. The city clerk will audit all accounts before they go to the finance committee of the council, and he must report all counter claims. All claims must be presented under oath. He must keep a list of all city property. He must keep himself informed about the official acts of all officers who have to do with receipt and disbursement of city money. The clerk will have charge of all the city bookc, and must keep a " complete set of books exhibiting the financia! condition of the corporation in all of its departments, funds, resources and liabilities, with a proper classification thereof, and showinc the purpose for which eaah fund was raised. He shall also keep an account with the trea8urer, in which he shall charge him with all the moneys received for each of the several funds of the city; and credit him with all warrants drawn thereon, keeping a separate account with each fund." The city clerk will be the clerk of all committees and boaids. He will have the entire clerical work for the city government. His vote in the council is taken away. He is made the depositor oí standard weights and measures. THK CITT TREASCRER. This offlcer, under the proposed new charter, will e appointed by the mayor and con6rmed by the council. Now he is appointed by the council j and if a poor choice is made, the responsibility rests with several persons chosen in different warda, whereas it ought to rest upon one man repreaenting the whole city, and who thus can be puuished by a rejection at the next election. The new charter makes it a misdemeanor for the treasurer to use any city money for any of his own purposes. It provides several checks on this handler of the funds. Bach month he must furnish the common council with a statement of the condition of the various funds, and the amount of outstanding warrants yet unpaid. Under the present system, the city recorder's financial statement has not for years agreed with that of the city treasurer. There would seem to be no excuse for that under the new charter. Besides the treasurer's monthly report, he must present a certifícate from the cashier of the bank holding the city money, stating how much he has on deposit at the time. Under such a system it would be almost impossible for a defalcation to escape detection longer than tour weeks. TITE COMMON CODNOIL. Under the present charter there is no clear provisión for a mayor in ca=e of the death, absence, or resignation of the incumbent. The new charter provides for a president pro tem. of the council who shall act as mayor in any such contingency. Now it is easy for an alderman to escape voting on any measure in which he wishes to shirk responsibility, but the charter requires a yea and nay vote on all ordinances and resolutions involving the expendíture of money. The council can pass anything over the mayor's veto by a two-thirds vote. All Communications f rom the mayor to the council must be in writing. BOARD OF PUBLIC WOEKS. This is an entirely new feature. Under the present charter, one alderman in each ward has practically had the entire control of the expenditure of $1,000 annually, and there is no check on him. Those who know the demoralization this has led to, and who have the best interests of the city at heart, will hail almost any change with delight. The lives of aldermen have been made weary by that feature. It also givea a powerful temptation to the unscrupulous. The alderman who resists the scramble for that $1,000 is marked for defeat at the next election by the floating vote. The board of public works will have charge of the streets and sidewalks, but it can incur no expense exceeding $10 without the consent of the council. It will consist of five members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council, one member'8 term expiring each year. This joard of public works shall appoint a street commissioner and can remove him, and his salary shall be flxed by the cotnmon council. This board will lighten the jurden of the unpaid city fathers; and hus relieved, first-class men will feel less reluctant to serve as aldermen. There would also be more chance of electing such men. THE FIRE BOARD. This is another new feature. It will consist of three members, appointed by he mayor. The term will be three years, and there will be no compensation. It will have charge of organizing fire comanies, shall appoint a chief of the fire epartment, and mnke general rulea and [CONCLüBED ON 8ECOND PAGE.] A NEW CITY CHARTER. [CONTINÜKD FROM FIRST rAGE.] regulations governing the fire departtnent. It will relieve tbe aldermen of much work ; but the oouncil keeps a firm urip on the finaDcial part of it. THE BOARD OF HEALTH. There is little change made in the board of health. As at present it will consist of three members, but they will hold for three years, one member going out each year. Another change is that tbe board can, if it chooees, select a health officer outfiide its own number. The council fixes the health officer'g salary. There is room for improvement in thia scheme. Here is a good chance for Ann Arbor to secure the best health service in the state. Tin Register would not attempt now to give a full outline of what such a service should be under the recent advances in aanitary science. The diffi culiy in the way of securing such a service is very great, becauae the majority of people considttr the pocket book before they do public health matters. Rightly considered, it is for the interest of the citizen8' pocket-book that Ann Arbor have a good health service. The present aervice is as good as can be expected under the circumatances; but Ann Arbor ought to have a better one. The common council should be the board of health, - the power that controls 'he purse, - or else the board of health should have a generous appropriation. With the common council as the board of health, there should be a phyaician as health officer with large powers to act, and with a salary that would make him independent of the practice of medicine, at of any but an office prauiin;. Tliis is radical, but it will bear examination. With a good health officer, clothed with auch powers as the general atatutes give in the absence of regulati ns made at home, and backed up by the common couDCil and a good salary, Ann Arbor's death rate would decline. It should also be remembered that Aun Arbor ma4 eoon have some method of removing filth, or see lts death-rate iucreaBe. There should he no shp-shod method of bringing it about. A good health officer could be a great help in that matter. OTBER PROVISIONS. Under the new charter the coi atables must obey the ordera of the chief of pohce The city attorney's salary is now limited to $100. He lias really been getting $300 annually, under various pretexts, and the new charter limita it to that amount. The subject of sewers is left with the board of public works, but the money for sewers will hive to be obtained by vote of the tax-payers, or by an enabling act of tbe legialature.


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