Sunday, April 19, 2015


The Cortland Democrat, Friday, January 3, 1890.

They Are Moderate Workers and not over Careful of the People's Money.
   It has been, and still is, a mystery to the tax payers of this county how the Board of Supervisors can occupy so much time and create so much expense at their annual session. A few things noticed by an onlooker may serve to enlighten the over burdened tax payers, and warn them to take more care in the selection of the men who make their own rules and audit their own accounts.
   Until 1879 the Supervisors were content to meet on the next Tuesday after election as county canvassers, and the next day organize as a Board of Supervisors. But in that year it occurred to some of the more business like members, that they could increase their income, so they changed the time of meeting to Monday, after election, and by that means and a little stretch in conscience, get six dollars for the second day’s meeting by swearing that they performed a day as Supervisors in the forenoon and a day as canvassers in the afternoon.
   Would they, if they hired a man to mow in the forenoon, and pitch hay in the afternoon pay him for two day’s work, or would they demand his resignation immediately on the presentation of the bill?
   But this was only an entering wedge of the present custom. Up to that time, all of the county business, as well as all the increase brought on by the business of the war was performed in about twelve days. But as soon as the ice was broken, it proved an easy task to fall in such deep water that it would take twenty days to get out.
   After the tax payers had been reconciled to this increase of time, it was an easy matter to add on until they could occupy the whole four weeks and then two days more to sign their names to the warrants for the collection of taxes.
   By an examination of the Supervisor’s journal, it appears to have been the custom to adjourn from Friday night to Monday morning until 1882, when a motion was carried that they sit until noon on Saturday. When the accounts were made up at the end of the session there were none but whole days.
   A few words as to supplies furnished for the board will show what has been the expense, and if computed carefully will give an idea of what we may expect at the end of the next six years.
   At the session of 1883, Bushby & Robinson furnished supplies to the board at a cost of $9.97.
   1884, W. P. Robinson, $18.75.
   1885, W. P. Robinson, $33.75.
   It then occurred to the board that they should have some postage stamps. Consequently the clerk brought forth a bill for stamps of $10.50.
   1886, Wallace for supplies, $20.75, W. P. Robinson, $5.30; total $27.05. Clerk for postage, $12.03.
   1887, Wallace for supplies, $30.80, Hollenbeck, $48.15; total $78.95. Clerk for postage, $14.40.
   1888, Wallace for supplies, $60.09, Hollenbeck, $30.15; total $90.24. Clerk’s postage, etc., $14.66.
   1889, Wallace for supplies, $42.90, Hollenbeck, $12.40; total $55.30. Clerk’s postage, etc., $29.13.
   In this year the bill for stationery falls off considerably from the probable fact that there would be exposure if the tables should be loaded up the last day of the session as had been the custom.
   These amounts are only for the stationery and postage. Other expenses without doubt increasing in the same ratio.
   It will be readily seen from the above that in the five year account for the items mentioned the increase was from $9.97 to $204.90, or a little more than 10 1/2 times.
   The same rate for the next five years would give the snug little sum of $1,100. Neither is this all, as we find by examination of the bills for supplies. Each year is a lamp for the clerk’s desk but as the bill for the lamp was ten cents less this year than last there is a prospect of that charge not being so burdensome. Last year it was ten dollars while this year it was only nine dollars and ninety cents.
   An important question with the tax payers is, what becomes of this large amount of stationery, postage, lamps, etc. If they could be stationed at the entrance to the supervisor’s rooms at the final closing of the session, and see the bundles and satchels carried away, the mystery would be solved so far as supplies are concerned, but even then the great length of time killed could not be accounted for, as any business man and almost any farmer can easily see that all the county business can be easily done in ten days just as correctly as it is done in twenty-six days.
   The day used to visit the county farm [for inspection and free lunch—CC editor] costs the tax payers nearly or quite $100, and no one is benefited one cent, except that the supervisors can have an excuse for killing one day more time.
   But the last session caps the climax for time killing and extra charging.
   Chapter 482 Laws of 1875 as Amended by Chapter 63 Laws of 1886 establishes the fees for supervisors at $3 per day including the whole twenty-four hours.
   By an examination of the bills rendered at the close of this session, we find that two supervisors charge for and are allowed two days for making the official canvass which is equivalent to $9 for the second day of the session besides travelling fees. Twelve charge for one day extra, and one charges nothing for that day as supervisor but charges three dollars and travelling fees as canvasser.
   Amount charged as supervisors, $1,158.
   Amount charged as canvassers, $51.
   The whole could easily have been done in ten days at an expense of $450 and the county have saved on supervisor’s fees alone $759, if they had worked for the county as they would have required any one to have worked for them.
   And yet the farmers who will have the bill to pay will be hoodwinked by a few schemers and continue the same men in office year after year.
   At the last session of the board, one of the most efficient and successful business men in the county was offered as clerk by a member of the board for $150, but as he was outside the little ring, his name was immediately defeated and the place given to one of their liking at $200.
   The following will show something of the disposition to economize. At the end of the session the following resolution was offered by Mr. Holton:
   Resolved, That the committee to settle with the supervisors and their clerk be requested to collect, count and deliver to the clerk all unused supplies, and that the clerk be held responsible for their safe delivery to the next board.
   On motion of A. K. Bennett the motion was laid on the table.
   Resolved, That no supervisor be allowed per diem fees for any days that he has not been in attendance at the sessions of this board.
   On motion of A. K. Bennett the same was laid on the table.
   On motion of Mr. Saunders said resolutions and motions were expunged from the minutes.
   There was only one vote against said motions.
   Shall the tax payers of Cortland county submit to such practices, and continue such men in office, or shall they assert their sovereignty and select men who will work as they would require to be worked for?
   A FARMER [pen name]

In Favor of Economy.
To the Editor of the Democrat:
   In one of your late papers I noticed the just criticisms given by you over the time spent by the supervisors in doing the county business. It is high time that a reform in this direction should be insisted upon by the tax payers of this county. While we do not wish to ignore the qualifications of our late representatives, we protest against the manner they are doing the people’s business.
   They ought to get out of the old rut, and no longer continue on the play day system. Would they like men to do work in this way if they were to foot the bills from their own pockets? Most assuredly they would not.
   The farmers in the county who are selling their products at ruinous prices, and all men who are trying to live on the income of their hard earned toil, should give the matter their speedy attention and insist that economy is the order of the day, and that “Public office is a public trust,” and they should hold their county representatives to these rules in the administration of their affairs.
   MARATHON, Dec. 28, 1889.

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