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In fact, Governor Sayers, who signed this bill, the papers say, at the same time approved of an act authorizing certain steam railways to purchase and consolidate with other lines of railway.
Again, it has been argued that if one street railway company is permitted to acquire other lines, dangerous political power may be obtained in this way, on account of the large number of employes controlled by one corporation. What difference would there be in this. behalf, whether one man, acting through separate corporate organizations, managed or controlled four or five roads, or that the same man should do the same thing under one corporate organization?
Upon a critical examination of the whole bill and an analysis of the objection to it, I have concluded that there is no trust or pool or monopoly created or made possible by it, and that as it received the sanction of so large a portion of the members of the General Assembly, as it seem to meet the almost unanimous approval of the people of the localities especially affected by it, as it does not increase the cost of service to the people but secures benefits not now enjoyed or possible of attainment, and as it does not violate any provision of the organic law or conflict with Democratic precedents or principles, or with the best interests of the people, I have affixed to it my approval.
Jefferson City, June 21, 1899. To the Secretary of State:
Sir I have the honor to forward to you herewith, without my approval indorsed thereon,
Senate bill No. 465, entitled
“An act to amend article 3 of chapter 30 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, 1889, entitled 'Cities of the second class,' by adding a new section thereto, to be numbered 1435a, authorizing the city council to erect, maintain and operate, and purchase water works, gas and power plants, electric light plants, or any equity therein.” This bill reached me within the ten days next before the final adjournment of the Fortieth General Assembly.
Section 1435, Revised Statutes, 1889, authorizes the common council of a city of the second class to erect, maintain and operate water works. This gives ample power to any second class city of our State which is financially able to erect its own water works.
This same section authorizes the council, in their discretion, to grant the right to any person or persons, to erect water works and lay down pipes for the use of said city and its inhabitants, upon such terms as the council may, by ordinance, prescribe. Said section also provides that the right to erect water works and lay down pipes for the use of said city and its inhabitants shall not be granted for a longer term than twenty years, and shall not be granted or renewed unless by the consent of a majority of the qualified voters of said city, expressed at an election held for that purpose.
This provides ample means for cities of this class to secure water facilities in the event it is expedient from any cause, for said cities to erect paintain and operate water works by the municipal corporation itself. This statute also protects the citizens against the im
provident or indiscreet acts of a council in making a contract for the supply of water, by requiring the assent of a majority of the voters to be given thereto.
Senate bill No. 76, introduced by Senator Haynes, and which was passed at the last session of the General Assembly, and is now the law, placed an additional safeguard in the hands of the second-class cities of our State, by adding an amendment to the former statute, providing that when a second-class city did contract to and have water supplied by any one other than the city itself, the mayor and common council should have the right by ordinance, from time to time, to fix the rates to be charged for water.
Under the law, therefore, as it now stands, the cities of the second class which have contracts with water companies, which contracts expire, can, by an ordinance, passed by the city council, fix the rate that the water company shall in the future charge for its service.
If the water company does not wish to accept the rate provided by ordinance, ample power is given the city to erect and maintain its own water works system.
This bill attempts to provide an additional method for acquiring a water plant by a city, and authorizes the acquisition of an equity of redemption. It provides for the pledging of the income and revenue of such purchased' water works to secure the payment of bonds issued for the purchase price of such works.
It is not easy to discover why the authority given by this bill to purchase mortgaged water works and issue bonds and pledge the income of the water plant should be possessed by cities of this class. Our law now provides ample means for cities of this class, financially able, to erect and operate their own water plants, and in such cities as have contracts now in force with water companies, it is provided by the present statutes that the city can arbitrarily fix the water rates when the existing contracts expire. As to cities where contracts have not expired the water companies would be unaffected by this measure, because the General Assembly by this, or any other act, could not annul or abrogate an existing contract.
The Constitution of our State wisely prohibits the incurring of indebtedness beyond a certain limit by the counties, cities and towns. This has been deemed a sound business policy for the cities, counties and towns to follow. If the acquisition by purchase of a water plant by a city would increase its indebtedness over the constitutional limit, under the existing law it cannot be legally acquired. This proposed law may not be an effort to authorize the acquiring of a water plant by a city of the second class by assuming indirectly, through a purchase of an equity of redemption, of an indebtedness in excess of the constitutional limit, but it certainly does authorize the acquisition of a water plant that is mortgaged and encumbered by cities of the second class, and there is no limit in the amount of the incumbrance.
The theory upon which the limitation on indebtedness of cities was placed in our organic law was that it was deemed wise for the municipalities of our commonwealth to remain as near as practicable on a cash basis, and to pay for what they acquired in cash. This is evident from the provisions of article 10 of the Constitution, and particularly so from the prohibition contained in section 12 of article 10, restraining cities from becoming indebted in any year in an amount in excess of the income and revenue provided for such year without first obtaining the assent of two-thirds of the voters thereof, and even with the sanction of a vote, limiting the amount of indebtedness to not exceeding five per cent. of the value of the taxable property including existing indebtedness.
This cash policy and limitation on incurring of indebtedness has preserved and maintained the financial credit of our State and of the cities thereof.
I do not think it wise to authorize the purchase of an extensive property, costing perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars, and yet have the same heavily mortgaged, perhaps for millions. I do not think this would be in harmony with the spirit of our constitution and law, with reference to the incurring of indebtedness by municipalities. It is true, it is provided that the city may pledge the income of the plant to secure the bonds the city may issue for the purchase price; but what if the income of the plant is insufficient to meet the interest and maturing bonds? After all, it is really only an assumption by the city of the debt in practical effect. It is true the city is authorized now to incur an indebtedness up to a certain point, and it is equally true a direct way is now provided for that to be done by the existing statutes of the State.
For the reason, therefore, that I believe ample power is now given a city of the second class to erect and operate a water plant and to protect itself from unjust exactions by companies where water contracts expire by fixing under the present law the water rates by ordinances, and because I believe it unwise and not in harmony with the spirit of our law or the policy of our State to authorize the incurring or assumption of unlimited indebtedness by our municipalities, I forward this bill to you without my approval.
Jefferson City, June 21, 1899. To the Secretary of State:
Sir—I have the honor to forward to you herewith, without my ap. proval indorsed thereon,
Senate bill No. 22, entitled
“An act to repal section 4796c, and to enact a new section in lieu thereof, to be know as section 4796c, and to amend section 4796g of an act relating to 'Elections, primary: In cities of 300,000 inhabitants or over,' approved March 5, 1897, with an emergency clause." This bill reached me within the ten days next before the final adjournment of the Fortieth General Assembly.
This is an act to be found at page 117 of the Session Acts of 1897, and applies only to the city of St. Louis.
This act amends section 4796c as it appears in the Session Acts of 1897, in this respect to wit: Section 4796c, as adopted in 1897, provides two judges and one clerk for each election precinct, while the act of 1899 permits, or rather provides, that from each list submitted there shall be selected one judge and one clerk for each delegation submitted, to act at such primary election, unless there are three or four delegations submitted, in which event only one judge or one clerk, as the election commissioners may choose, shall be selected for each delegation. This act of 1899 might materially increase the expense of holding primary elections, and would only complicate the election machinery by adding additional judges and clerks. Two judges and one clerk have been considered sufficient, according to the policy of our law heretofore, to hold a primary election for a political party. must be remembered that this law is to control an election wholly within a political party, and not to apply to general elections where different parties are to be represented at the election. This privilege of having one judge and one clerk for each delegation might be so abused as to cause fifteen or twenty judges or clerks in one election precinct, by politicians or others running different delegations for some ulterior purpose. The election machinery of the State should be as simple and direct as possible, as inexpensive as it can be made, consistent with its efficiency.
Section 4796g is amended by this act of 1899, by increasing the deposit $5.00 a candidate is required to make in order to be voted for at such primary election, and increases the amount $5.00 that the members of a political party, holding the primary election, will have to pay in order to run a ticket at such primary. The amount is increased in each case from $10.00 to $15.00, and the qualified voters of the ward, not less than twenty in number, who may desire to run a ticket at such primary election, are simply taxed five dollars additional by this bill. This is not in cognizance with the spirit of institutions. I can see no particular reason why this increase should be made. The ordinary candidate has a sufficient amount of drain upon his pocket-book already, and it should not be the aim of our laws or the policy of our State government to increase the expenses of those who may desire to become candidates before the people for the offices to be filled by the voters. The common complaint now is that it costs more money than the office is worth to obtain it, and the lavish expenditure of money in elections of the State should be discouraged.
By section 4796i of the act of 1897, it is provided that the judges and clerks may receive $3.00 per day for their services. If fifteen or twenty delegations were run, and a judge and clerk appointed from each one, it would enormously increase the expense of the primary election. This act of 1899 simply makes more cumbersome and increases the expense of the primary election, which is already, I think, sufficiently expensive. The act of 1897, as it stands on the statute books, seems to be a complete law, and I see no benefits to be conferred by the amendment provided for in this bill. I therefore forward you the same without my approval.