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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/29

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THE MOST EXPENSIVE CITY IN THE WORLD.

nue to the city that is insignificant, the total collected rarely exceeding $300,000 a year.

The gradual reduction of the city debt, except as it is maintained or increased by additional bond issues, is amply provided for by a steadily increasing and protected sinking fund. The total receipts of this fund in 1899 were $15,601,492.50. The Croton water rents, amounting last year to $4,590,502.55, are applied to this fund, as well as the dock and slip rents of $2,362,421.14. Some of the other chief items of this fund are: Revenue from investments, $3,573,519.34; ferry rents, $370,776; market rents, $251,500; interest on deposits, $520,526; installments included in the budget, $2,633,110.

More than $1,000,000 is derived annually from miscellaneous sources, including the sale of various odds and ends of property. The total interest charges on bonds in 1899 amounted to $11,275,822, leaving more than $4,000,000 of the sinking-fund income applicable to reduction of the funded debt.

Two features of the financial system of New York that increase expenditures can and should be changed. Taxes are now collected in the last quarter of the year upon an assessment made twelve months before. This compels the city to borrow large sums of money to meet current expenses. In 1899 the city borrowed, in anticipation of taxes, the sum of $48,027,450, on which the interest amounted to $755,704. If the taxes were collected during the first quarter of the year, the city would not only save this three quarters of a million dollars interest on temporary loans, but for six or seven months would have large cash balances in depository banks earning two per cent. This change would be worth approximately $1,500,000 a year to the treasury, but it must be made by degrees in order that taxes shall not be collected twice in a twelve-month.

Under the present constitutional restriction upon the borrowing capacity of the city, New York is placed in the contradictory position of getting richer and poorer at the same time and by the same process. The restriction of the debt limit to ten per cent of the taxable real estate is arbitrary, and makes no distinction of obligations. Every time the city acquires additional real estate for parks, docks, schoolhouses, or any other purpose its borrowing capacity and income from taxation are reduced, because the property acquired no longer yields a tax and it is not counted in the valuation upon which the debt limit is fixed. This is the most illogical and unbusinesslike feature of the present financial system.

The piers owned by the city are profitable investments, yielding