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General Report.

the duty of the Board to observe the approved methods of business by purchasing such supplies in the cheapest market with little regard to municipal or State lines. Whatever sum is paid for a commodity above its fair market price is simply a donation of that sum to the seller. The law has not conferred upon the Board authority to donate the money of the State to individuals or corporations, either directly or indirectly. power exists it is vested in the legislature only.

The practice of the Board in the matter of purchasing supplies has been severely criticised by some of those citizens who were accustomed to sell supplies to the State. The point of such criticism is that those citizens are tax-payers of the State and ought to be preferred to non-residents who are not such taxpayers, even to the extent of paying a much higher price for the commodity than the non-resident would ask for it. The criticism is manifestly without merit for the reason that the excess of price must be paid by the other tax-payers of the State, a very large majority of whom never sell supplies to or deal with the State. Thus the great body of tax-payers would be required to make donations to the few tax-payers who might enjoy the patronage of the State institutions, receiving no return for their bounty.

The question of the best mode of purchasing supplies for the State Institutions was much considered by the Board during the last year of the biennial term ending in 1898, and the methods which now prevail were settled upon, and a commencement made in that year to put them in practice. It was found that abuses, expensive to the State, had crept into that branch of the public service. Many purchases were made without adequate knowledge on the part of the persons making them of the qualities of the commodities purchased, or without proper information of market values. In such cases the State was at the mercy of the sellers, and, of course, was usually the loser. Besides there

General Report.

or political favorites without much regard to qualities or prices. It is believed that these abuses have been corrected by the present methods. That large sums of money have thereby been saved to the State is easily demonstrated by the comparative tables to be annexed hereto of current expenses for the last two biennial terms the first of which is a fair average term showing the results of the old methods, and the last showing the results of the present methods of purchasing supplies. These tables also show the average population of the institutions during each year of these terms. As a matter of course the cur rent expenses and the average population of the institutions are the essential factors in making the comparsion of the relative expenses of the two terms.

Such population during the last three years remained substantially the same. During 1897 it was nearly two hundred less. Hence, for the purpose of the comparison the rate of expenses of that year should be computed on a per capita basis. The annual per capita in 1897 was $225.45. At that rate the cost of maintaining 2,608 inmates for that year (which is the average of the other three years) would have been $587,973,60. This, therefore is the rate of expenditure.

On the basis of the tables before mentioned the computation shows the following results:

Average number of inmates in all the state institutions governed by the Board in each fiscal year f the st two biennial

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Rate of Current Expenses in 1897, and current expenses in

each of the other years of such biennial terms:

In 1897.... $537,793 60
In 1898.... 621,898 77

$1,212,6-2 37
1,091,499 22

In 1899.... $555,382 44
In 1890..

536, 116 78

$1,031,499 22


General Report.

A computation on a per capita basis throughout, or on any other proper basis will give substantially the same result.

A comparison of the two years constituting the last biennial. term with the current expenses in 1898 alone will show an increased comparative rate of reduction in current expenses during 1899 and 1900. But inasmuch as the current expenses in 1898 were considerably increased by the cost of replacing supplies destroyed by fire at the Industrial School in that year, it was thought more accurate to include in the comparison the current expenses in 1897, which were very moderate in amount. This mode of computation considerably reduces the difference between. the current expense accounts of the two biennial terms.

It should be observed in this connection that the above figures do not cover all of the savings during the last biennial term, as compared with the preceding term, for the reason that the market price of all or nearly all the supplies purchased for the institutions were much higher during the last than during the former term. This difference in price has been overcome. Had prices remained unchanged the expenditures of the last term would have been many tens of thousands of dollars less than they actually and necessarily were, and the figures would have shown the savings for that term correspondingly increased.

The Board desires to say that it does not claim that all the above mentioned reduction of current expenses should be attributed to the better methods adopted for the purchase of supplies. Money has been saved in other ways. The services of an architect and of and electrical and mechanical engineer employed at quite liberal compensation. besides expenses, have been dispensed with. Such service is employed when needed, and its cost is now comparatively small.

The Board also thinks that money has been saved to the State, without imparing the efficiency of the service or the comfort or welfare of the inmates of the institutions, by increased

General Report.

plies as are usually purchased at private sale, and by closer consideration of the necessity for making proposed purchases. Yet after making due allowance for these conditions, a very large percentage of the reduction in current expenses may fairly be credited to the present methods of purchasing supplies.

This subject may be dismissed with the observation that the practice inaugurated by the Board in respect to the purchase of supplies is fully upheld by the statute authorizing and providing for such purchases. The mandate of that statue is "All materials and supplies shall be purchased at the lowest practicable price." R. S., Sec. 561m.




By Chapter 294, Laws of 1899, the Legislature appropriated $341,900 to the several state institutions governed by this Board for certain improvements specified in the law. Of this sum $158,000 was appropriated to the Home for Feeble Minded for new buildings, equipments and supervision; and $150,000 to the State Reformatory to continue the erection and furnishing of reformatory buildings. Of the remaining $33,900 there was appropriated $10,000 to the Northern Hospital for the Insane for new bath rooms and alterations of buildings, and the resi due to different institutions for twelve other minor improvements.

These appropriations were, of course, payable out of the general fund in the State Treasury. But it transpired that the gen. eral fund was not only exhausted, but largely overdrawn. Hence, there was no money in the Treasury which couid lawfully be used to pay the appropriations. This condition of the general fund continued a year after the enactment of Ch. 294 of 1899. Hence for the first year of the last biennial term the Board was unable, for want of funds, to make any of the im

General Report.

During the past year the condition of the general fund has so improved that the Board has been able, with your approval, to make most of the minor improvements before mentioned, and to erect and equip a bath house for each sex at the Northern Hospital. Such improvements are either completed or progressing to an early completion. The boilers and furnaces for the State Prison, and the duplicate engine and dynamo for the Home for Feeble Minded have also been purchased.

The Board with like approval has erected and equipped an additional dormitory at the Home for Feeble Minded of sufficient capacity for about one hundred inmates, which is now nearly ready for occupancy. The estimated cost thereof is about $50,000 leaving unexpended about $108,000 of the appropriation to that institution.

The Board is also erecting a building for shops, dining room. and other purposes at the State Reformatory at an estimated cost of the building and for furnishing thereof of $35,000. This leaves about $115,000 unexpended of the appropriation to the latter institution to continue the erection and furnishing of reformatory buildings. The building thus being erected will considerably increase the capacity of the Reformatory which is already nearly filled to its present capacity.

The pressing necessity for additional buildings at both the Home for Feeble Minded and the Reformatory is fully shown in the annexed reports of the Superintendents of those institutions respectively. You have recently assured the Board that, doubtless, the condition of the general fund will permit the Board to make contracts for the erection of such necessary buildings during the spring and summer of 1901, the cost being limited to the unexpended balance of such appropriations unless the Legislature directs a larger expenditure.

It is the present impression of the Board that the expenditure at the Home for Feeble Minded should be for additional dormitories for inmates, congregate dining room and a school house;

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