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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/30

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a revenue in excess of interest and sinking fund for the bonds issued; yet if we should acquire $100,000,000 of additional water front now owned by private parties the borrowing capacity of the municipality would be reduced $10,000,000, and the income would suffer the amount of taxes on the land acquired. There should be adopted a constitutional amendment that would separate debts incurred for revenue-yielding investments, such as docks and waterworks, from those created for general public improvements. The former should not be a charge against the borrowing capacity of the city.

The budget of the city for 1900 is $90,778,972.48, which will be reduced $9,000,000 by the general fund, leaving some $82,000,000 to be raised by taxation. The magnitude of this outlay for current expenses may be better understood by comparison with the expenditures of other large cities. The approximate current expenses of London last year were $73,000,000; of Paris, $75,000,000; of Berlin, $23,347,600; of Boston, $35,454,588; of Chicago, $32,034,008; of Philadelphia, $27,075,014.

In 1899 the State tax paid by the city of New York amounted to $6,275,659, or nearly seventy per cent of the whole; interest on bonds absorbed $11,275,822, leaving $75,813,644 as the actual cost of the current expenses of local government. The gross budget represented a per-capita tax of $24.62 on 3,500,000 inhabitants, of which $19.56 was for local expenses. Of this enormous expenditure more than $35,000,000 is paid out in salaries and wages to 37,000 officers and employees. The Police Department cost $12,000,000 a year, of which $10,700,000 is for salaries. New York has 6,400 policemen. Philadelphia has 2,600, and the annual cost of the department in that city is $3,100,000 a year—much lower in proportion than that of the metropolis.

The salaries and wages paid to all regular department employees, including policemen, firemen, street cleaners, and dock builders, are higher than those paid in any other city in the world, and almost without exception the rate has been fixed by act of the State Legislature, and not by the local authorities. In the matter of fixing the pay of officers and employees the city of New York has never known any degree of home rule.

The magnitude of the city in wealth and population has always operated against economy in local government. There has existed, apparently, an overwhelming popular sentiment in the city, as well as throughout the State, that such a great municipality should pay the maximum price for everything it might require. If this sentiment had been satisfied by the payment of high salaries and wages it might have been excusable from some points of view; but