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Mayor Beakes' Message

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To tfie Common Cmincil: In accordance with the requirements of the charter of the city, I have the honor to submit toyour honorable body my views upon a few of the important questions which will probably receive mnch attention during the coming year both at your hands and at mine. I desire to impress upon you the importance of the work which the new charter imposes upon the tirst council to act under it. While it is true that you have been relieved of the executive work which has in times past rendered the office of alderman peculiarly irksome, your office is none the less responsible. The otlier branches of the city government have only to do your bidding. You have the initiative in all city legislation. While the various boards of the city and myself rnay frorn time to time recommend eertftin things to you, it lies in the exercise of your own good judgnient as to what action on thepart of the municipal authorities will best conserve to the public interest. You hold the purse strings. All public improvements must first obtain your sanction. Ithas been the desire of those concenied in the formation of the charter to take from yourshoulders the burden of executing, wliile leaving your power intact to say what shall be done. 1ÍEW ORDINANCES AND RKOILATIONS. One of the first things tooccupy your attention is the drafting of new ordinances to carry into effect the powers granted the city authorities by the new charter under which we are acting. This work needs to be carefully and thoroughly done. As you well know many nonsensical provisions now lumber up our ordinances. Some of our ordinances are not warranted by either the present or the old charter. ïhey cannot be executed because they are not lawful ordii.ances. Such excrescences on our ordinancebook should be carefully pruned out. Before passing au ordinance, care should be taken to see that power is given in the charter to legislate on the subject matter of the ordinance. Next, it should be determined that the provisions of the ordinance in questiondonot work injustice and are for the well being of Ann Arbor and its citizens. Only such ordinances should be put upon our statute book, as your best judgment tells you, ought to be executed . It is the work of the exeoutive part of our municipal government to see that the ordinances you pass are executed. I feel that it is a duty incumbent upon me to see that the ordinances are obeyed by all our citizens, as far as lies in my power. I believe that I have no right to discrimínate in favor of any one or any class of citizens and that all should be held strictly to the provisions of the lawful ordinances passed by your body. In this view, the ordi nances should be carefully considered before passage. Every line should be weighed. Ann Arbor has a most law-abiding class of oitizens and let it be generally understood that the ordinances are passed to be obeyed by everyone, that they will be held good by the courts and that they are such as your judgment tells rou are reasonable and no trouble need be anticipated in seeing that they are put into effect. It is unnecessary to remind you that the charter mainly gives you the right to pass ordinances and municipal regulations and until such ordinances are passed, many of the provisions of the charter cannot be carried into effect. As steps have been taken for the publication of a new compilation of ordinances which is very much needed, it would be well to take a broad and general view of a subject before legislating upon it. Would it not make the compilation better proportioned, if instead of a number of ordinances upon one subject, there should be one ordinance covering it, the different sections of which should cover the various branches of the subject? In other words, the legislation should be such as to cover all casesinstead of one particular case. The ciistom of drafting ordinances to cover a particular case is largely responsible tor the heterogeneous mass of city laws which now exist, but which are not broad enougli to adequately protect the public. It is too of ten the case that when theriglits of the city or its citizens are invaded a search of the ordinances fails to reveal any such justregulations asthecharter allows. Such is coming to be almost an every day occurrence . The work of remedyingthisstateoffactsis alaborious one, but it is one of great importance and should not be neglected. REVIEW OF TOK PAST YEA1Ï. The past year has been a prosperous one for Ann Arbor. In various ways her interests have been advanced and her growth has been such as should be extremely gratifying to her citizens. Among the good det;ds of the council during the past year were the granting of a franchise in which the rights of the city were properly guarded to a Street railway colnpany, which while being a much needed improvement to the city, will, I trust, prove a proiitable venture for the gentlemen who have invested in it. The building of the new street in the fifth ward, Cedar Bend Avenue, has given us one of the most attractive drives in the state. Second street has been opened and nearly placed down to grade. Many improvements have been made in the streets and especially in the crosswalks. and the new charter which wasprepared by the council will, I trust, be treasured up as one of the good deeds of a council, which reduced the expenses of the city government twenty per cent. This last was really the great achievement of the council of 1888, which found funds overdrawn in violationof the charter, with thecertainity of a large decrease in the revenue owing to a divisions of the liquor money with the county. The electric lights were maintained, the waterworks tax paid and no cut was made in street improvements. Cedar Bend Avenue was built, Second street opened and the $800 warrant for Church St., drawn in the dying hours of the council of 1887-8, paid. Yet the expenses of the past year were $30,715.11 as against $38,261.51 the preceding year and $33,386.61 the year before that. And when the fiscal year ended February 1 , the yarious funds were not overdrawn. It is due to the lire department to say that part of the saving was made at their expense in order to restore our disordered finances to their proper condition and the department can this year ask for a little additional consideration at your hands. While I have always been an advocate of economy in expenses and still maintain that attitude, I do not think that with tlie vast amount of public improvement which, owing tothe prosperty of the city, demands immediate attention, the expenditures can be kept down as low as last year. If the citizens see that they get good value for their money, they will not complain, but they justly demand that a close watch be kept upon the expenditures of the city. Under the provisions of the charter, the city tax of Ann Arbor will continue as 'in previous years, lower tlian any other Michigan city. THE STREETS. Ann Arbor is one of the most beautiful cities of a state noted for its many beautiful towns. She has great natural advantages and with care her beauty can be greatly enhanced. The pride our citizens take in the improveïuent of the streets is certainly gratifying. The grass plats between the streets and the sidewalks are being genernlly widened throughout the city. The shade trees shoukl be carefully nurtured and when they have, died out ought to beoarefully replaced. Blessed with a gravel soil, our streets are naturally much easier to care for than are those of other cities. None the less do they need attention. Care should be taken to make the bridges safe. If the streets are worked after a systematic plan, no doubt under the intelligent direction of the board of public works and with a street commissioner wlio will devote his whole time to the work, the same amount of money spent upon the streets as bas been spent in the past will produce greater resulta. The board of public works will undoubtedly make specific recommendations as to what improvements should be made. It would be well to distribute thein over the city and not to improve one part at the expense of anotber. Most of the money now in the street fund comes from the various ward funds under the old system. In justice the wards in which the money was raised ought to receive the benefit of it. If care is taken by the street commissioner and the board of public works to distribute the patronage of the street work impartially among the wards, the only objection that could possibly be urged against one general street rund would be obviated, while the benefit of systematic working of all the streets by one central board who devote themselves to that work would be clearly apparent. It seems to me that it would be well to widen the road bed of Cedar Bend avenue and make it absolutely safe for pleasure riders. Detroit, after all the money spent on a boulevard, cannot hope forjso fine a driye. .SIDEWALKS. There is pressing need of attention to the sidewalks. In no city of this size in the country are the sidewalks put to more constant use. While many ride, everybody walks. Poor sidewalks are dangerous to life and lirub. While the city has in the past escaped suits for damages from def ective sidewalks, the immunity enjoyed may end at any moment. The verdicts which the courts may award for injuries caused in a single year may equal an amount which would build new walks on every street in the oity. And after the damages are paid, the poor walks would yet remain. It is better to adopt such legislation as will remedy the poor walks than to run the risk of damages for allowing them to remain. The passage of the new charter has made it possible to adopt such en ordinance, as will make the putting down of walks dependent solely upon the order of the council, dispensing with the preliminary petitlon signed by the parties who will have to build, which petition too often it is impossible to obtain. All the taxpayers are by law liable for the damages eaused by the defects in the sidewalks of each lot owner. They have then a direct and moneyed interest in seeing that his walks are in proper condition. When new walks are ordered and not put down in the time fixed by the notice, the street commissioner ought to have the walks placed down immediately and the cost of the same will be assessed to the lot owner and go in with his other taxes. All should be treated alike and no l'avoritism shown. Because a man owns a vacant lot with no house upon it, is no reason why his walk should not be as good as if he had a residence upon the lot. There should be no discrimination against improvements. FIRE DEPARTMENT. This department needs your closest attention. The old volunteer flre comËanies did good work in their day. ;ut the city has grown greatly and the number of lire alarms have increased to such an extent that it has become difncult to keep up volunteer companies serving with merely nominal pay. So that it has become clearly appareut that Ann Arbor should place herself in line with other progressive cities and re-organize her tire department ou a more modern basis. The building boom which Ann Arbor has enjoyed for the past few years has increased the flre risk by placing wooden residences in closer proximity. Time is always a great element in extinguishing fires. 80 much time is necessarily taken upby volunteer companieswhose members live at some distance from the engino houses in getting to their engine houses aud from there to the flres, that a fire is apt togain considerable headway before the hose carts arrive. If a flre company can be on hand immediately after the llames are discovered, nearly always they could extinguish the lire. It seems to me that the best and wisest course for the city to take is to so organizo the department that the time taken in getting to a fire should be reduced to the minimum. The aged hose cart which was rejuvenated to answer the requirements of the department, until the board of lire commissioners could organize the department, is not safe, and may come to pieces at any moment. The firemen who use it run a constant risk. It seems to me imperative that the city should invest in at least one, i f not in two norse hose carts. The board of fire commissioners will undoubtedly with your aid be able to devise a system of a paid or partially paid fire department which would answer the needs of the city without being too burdensome uponourtax-payers. Owing to the fact that nothing has been done for the department recently, the appropriation this year will undoubtedly have to be larger than in succeeding years. Ilaving this in view, you will be obliged to economize in other directions. THE POOK. During the year ending, April 1, the sum of $2,054.08 was expended for the relief of the poor. Of this amount, $1,189.04 was spent for wood bought in small quantities. The county and the school board which do not use as much wood as the city buy their wood in large quantities and consequently at a lower price. A considerable sum of money might be saved, on this the largest item of the poor expense. The total expense last year was somewhat less than in the past few years. For the year ending April, 1886, the poor of the city cost $2,712.51 ; April, 1887, $2,103.10; April, 188S, $2,424.59; April, 188, $2,054.08. THE PÓLICE. One of the duties imposed apon the council by the charter is the passage of an ordinance fixing the number of patrolmen, and establishing pólice regulations. I would respectfully cali your attention to Section 108 of the charter. If proper care be taken with the ordinanccs and none are left on the ordinance book except what you wish enforced, no trouble need be anticipated regarding good order in the city, for no city can boast a more orderly and law-abiding class of citizens. I am sworn to see that the ordinances of the city are enforced. So are the marshal and the patrolmen and I take it that we will not be expected to viólate our oaths of office. It ia proper that I should here refer to the cost of the pólice department for the past f our years. The amount paid marshal and patrolmen for the year ending April 1886, was $2,580. The next year, the cost was the same, since that time the amount has decreased and at present we are paying at the rate of $1,380 a year. The number of arresta made during the year ending April 1, 1887, was 60; for the year ending April 1, 1888, it was 48 and for the year ending April 1, 1889, it was 102. The arrests last year nearly equaled the entire number for the two previous years. While the charter leaves the establishment of a city lockup or a workhouse to the discretion of the council, it should receive your consideration. The greatest feeling raised against the city on the board of supervisors has been that we have used the jail as a lockup. While we are obliged to pay for all persons sent to the jail under city ordinances, and always have been obliged so to do, this fact faas been lost sight of and the charges have been reiterated time and again. The expense of establishing a lockap would be very light and the cost of maintaining it almost nothing. If established, all tramps coming into the city could be but in the lockup over night and notilied to leave the city, when let out by the marshal in the morning. As they are transients, if fed it would properly be done at the expense of the superintendents of the poor, and a light and cheap breakfast, such as not to encourage them to return to this city could be given such as se lit to pay for their nights lodgiug witm sawing a certain amount of wood or doing such other work as the council might see fit to prescribe. These remarke upon the subject of a city lockup are thrown out merely to invite your careful attention to the subject and are not to be regardcd in the light of recommendations. SAN1TATION. Nature has done much for the health of the citizens of Ann Arbor. The city is built over a vast gravel bed and on high ground so that until now the question of sanitary precautions has not demanded the attention which it must have received had other conditions existed. But the growth of the past few years indicates the need of additional precautions to preserve the health of our citizens. There are two phases of the sanitary question which ought to be kept in view, the present and the future. The board of health should this year be more strict than ever, bef ore. No nuisances Hable to prove detrimental to the public health should for a moment be tolerated and the council ought by the passage of effective ordinances and in every way in its power aid the board of health in keeping the city, the healthful town it has always been. The board of health during the past year has done much effective work, particularly in the suppression of the small-pox epidemie which bro ke out in this city f rom two different sources. The board largely deserve the credit for the suppression of the dread disease. Some method must necessarily be devised, not far distant in the future, to keep the soil of the city from being contaminated. Whether Bewers or gome other method is preferable is for those who have made a study of the subject to determine. But it seems to me that it would be profitable and proper for the council to gather all the information possible upon the subject, so that when sewers or some other method of meeting the requirements for healthf ulness are built or put into use, it may be done with careful consideration, in the proper manner and with the least expenditure of money possible to secure the highest efficiency of service. The charter admits of two ways of disposing of the waste matter of the city, sewers or compulsory dry earth closets. If any other method should be found desirable, the right to use it can easily be acquired by an amendment to the charter, liefore sewers are constructed some place where the contents can be emptied and cared for should be provided. I pretend to no great knowledge on the subject, but iny personal observation of the sewage in other cities leads me to believe that the Huron river would not answer our purpose. For in the summer time the river is so low that it would not carry off the waste matter fast enough and the city would be liable to heavy damage suits from the owners of the land below the city, through which the river üows, for contaminating its waters. If sewers are to be constructed great care should be used to secure the best plan, for a poor system of sewerage is apt to be worse than no sewerage at all. Sewer gas is a dangerous element to encounter. The dry earth closet system would be a failure unless looked after by city scavfingers. whose duty it would be to take care of the boxes at stated periods and whose neglect of duty would undoubtedly be quickly reported, as it would involve neither expense nor trouble to the lot owners to keep their closets properly cleansed. Whetherwith city scavengers, employed at public expense to make frequent rounds such a compulsory system would conserve the health of the public, can only be properly determined af ter through investigation. The experiment nas been tried in other cities and the resulta should be ascertained. If practicable, this system would save the city's incurring a heavy debt, and would thus keep down taxes. Whether it is practicable or not I do not pretend to say. So large is the scope of the work which ought to be done this year that many other matters to which your attention should be called now come to mind. Rather than too farther overburden this already too lengthy communication, I will avail myself of the privilege of communicating in writing with you from time to time. Let the work of the city be taken up carefully, conscientiously and thoroughly done and the citizens will hare cause to bless the cnuncil of 1889.


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