Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/32

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
22
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the city are far greater than they should be, but it is going to be a difficult matter to make even an appreciable beginning in economy so long as the State Legislature is permitted to exercise practically unlimited power to regulate the financial affairs of the municipality. Persons and corporations, be they honest or corrupt, when they seek to obtain money from the city treasury for any purpose, are going to proceed along the line of least resistance, and the smooth and open way has long been the Legislature at Albany. Every session of that body adds something to the expenses of the city, and it is a short and dull one that does not add many thousands of dollars to the burden of the New York taxpayers.

The revenues of the municipality are so small in comparison with what they should be that it is a difficult matter to find any excuse for the theory of government that existed in the days when perpetual franchises were given away. It is small consolation that the policy of municipal ownership is at last to prevail after so much of the public property has passed into the possession of private corporations. If all the outstanding franchises that were the property of the people had been sold on short terms for percentages even as large as have been fixed in recent cases, the city to-day would drive from that source an annual revenue of more than $5,000,000, instead of the paltry $300,000 now collected.

The mistakes of the past, however, are beyond undoing, and the taxpayers must look to the future for relief from the burdens they bear. They are paying now $15,000,000 a year for the sentiment that demanded a city great in all save honesty and political wisdom. Consolidation in fact as well as sentiment must result to prove the material advantage of the arrangement. Public opinion and politicians must realize sooner or later that income and expenses are to be adjusted the one to the other upon sound and enduring principles of business, honesty, and intelligence. There must be a union of public and political interests. Every section of the great city must be brought into close touch with every other section by cheap and rapid transit.

The possibilities of the future are greater than the dreams of to-day, but new policies and new methods must and will prevail. The development of Greater New York must not be hampered by a financial system antiquated and imperfect. The city should have power to develop its material resources into revenue-yielding improvements, and then, with honest and intelligent government, the burden of taxation will be reduced to a minimum, and the ideal of the grandest municipality in the world will have been achieved.