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1 CYCLING DUELLO.

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PONTYPRIDD SCHOOL BOARD AND ITS HUGE DEFICIT. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? A TWO SHILLING POOR RATE. INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAIRMAN OF THE OVERSSERS. "FREE PRESS" SPECIAL. Bearing that a meeting of the Pontypridd Overseers had been held to receive the precept of the School Board for the next half-year, and to make the call upon the rates, a "Glamorgan Free Press" yeportetr on Monday evening waited upon Mr William Jones, the chairman of the overseers, in order to ascertain what call had been made, and if possible, to learn whether there was any foundation for the charges which had been freely circulated against the Overs'-fru in the course ot th.. dl. cussion at the School Board, and previously by the clerk in an interview, and in the letter sent to the Board by their treasurer. Finding Mr Jones at home the reporter at once assailed him with the question, "Have you received the precept from the School Board?" "Yes," replied Mr Jones, and it to £ 8,000." "Do you regard this as an exceptional pre- cept?" next asked the reporter. "It is the highest precept which has ever been issued by the Board," answered Mr Jones. "The next largest amount was £ 4,000, which was the amount of precept in September, 18-C and March, 1897, so that you see the j r»stm one is exactly double that amount." "Yon are aware," said the "Free Press" mnn. "that it has been stated the reason why such a large sum is now necessary is because 3ct) forced the hands of the Board to keep down those precepts. Is there any truth in that?" In answer to this, Mr Jones said, "No, it i" not so. If you will search the files of our paper you will pee exactly that the nVPFspprs sta- ?*d at their interview with the Board in Se_, tw>fcer last year (and which was the only nter- view they had with the Board) that they o sired the Board, in view of the reduction in rateable value due to the strike, to limit their ex- enditure as much as possible. The clerk, n reply stated distinctly that he was afraid they could not reduce the present rates, but belle,, c I in the succeeding half-year when the grantc would be falling due they would be able to meet the wishes of the overseers. In the inter- view, which one of your staff had with the clerk of the Board, the latter states that at the end of the half-year, September, 1898, there was an overdraft of £ 93 at the 'bank, and at the end of the half year, March, 1899, there was an ad- verse balance of £ 2,595 14s lOd. Now the clerk had said distinctly to the overseers that £ 3,000 with JE500 grant in that half-year would do very well, but what did the School Board do in the face of that overdraft? For the half- year F'ndpd 8- pv-n.hpr, 1899. they is*»-rt a ft cept for £ 3,500, although knowing their posi- tion in March, 1899. We made two requests to them to limit their extraordinary expenditure and to keep down the precept. They did no' keep down their precept; on the contrarv judging from the adverse balance at the end of the year, they largely increased their expend: ture. The promise to reduce the precept they d:d not keep, but instead they issued a call for J6500 more, although the clerk had said they could do with ESOO less because the grants were fnr ing due, and having had the £ 3,500 and £ 500 grant they still pet into debt to the extent or £ 2,000 in that half-year. So .there must ha-r been a deficit of £ 1,500 to make Bp the present overdraft of £ 4,300." been a deficit of £ 1,500 to make p the present overdraft of £ 4,300." "You spoke of doing away with extraordinary expenditure. Did you notice what the clert said with regard to loans. Those would comr toe6?" the 0ategory of extraordinary expendi- .J!hat comes under the head of increased lia- Dilities, answered the Chairman of the Over seers. "They can't explain the necessity for the increased precept, because an extra rate of two pence would more than meet that £1,303 Upon the present rateable value of Bontypridd. a penny rate would produce E674, so a two- j penny rate would more than cover the large loans of L21,000, and therefore they can't ac- count for the extra demand upon the ratepay- cfu i 7, overseers have never asked the bchool Beard to keep down the rates except in j • 88 *he ordinary expenditur: or tne Board is concerned, the overseers did not take exception, but to extraordinary expendi- ture which could have been put off until a more favourable period. The overseers did ask the Board to make arrangements in this direc- tion, but they didn't request them to curtail n!r/ri1y exPcnditure. If the clerk of the Board found that additional loans had to be met he ought to have made provision whioh f^,l! TdAnary expenditure. Therefore, the fW +L e overseers'. The overseers feel that the onus of the present position of the +h<^Ce £ Board should not he cast upon selves."10 erS' bufc rather on the ^d tW Have you considered how you are going to mt the precept?" queried the pressman. • s> ,we can, of course, only meet it bv an to wt and thff overseers have resolved to levy a rate of two shillings in the z. Kather high, is it not?" "Yes," said Mi* Jones, "exceptionally high. As overseers we are in this position. Whatever call is made upon us we are under an obligation to meet it. We are not responsible for the amount; that rest-s with the spending authori- ties." "But why the necessity for a two shilling rate? Is that entirely due to the School Board?" was the next question. Prompt came the answer, "Yes, it is, because the other calls are of the same amount as pre- viously. The Guardians require £6,000 (in- eluding county rate), and the Burial Board £ 625." "How long do you think this lively state of things is going to continue?" "Well, from the interview you had with the clerk, we gather that the ordinary expenditure of the Board is E4,000, and the other £ 4,000 will go to clear off the overdraft, which will be near- ly entirely met. So we hope, after the next half-year, things will return to their normal condition." "Do you not think it would have been better to have adopted Mr Porcher's suggestion?" ob- served the reporter. "I think it a very good suggestion, and if it. had been adopted our rates would have been spread over a period of three half-years, and w& could have met it with a much lesser rate." The interview then terminated. WHAT THE OVERSSERS ACTUALLY SAID TO THE SCHOOL BOARD. In view of the intense interest which has been aroused throughout the district by the dispute* between overseers v School Bo-u-ct. as to wi,nm the responsibility rests upon, we quote the fol- lowing report of the School, Board meeting at which the overseers interviewed the Board, and which was reported in the "Glamorgan Free- Press" on September 24th, 1898:" At the special meeting of the Pontypridd School Board held on Tuesday, Mr James Rich- ards (chairman) presiding, Messrs William Jones, F. Hill, and John Lewis, overseers, and Mr Joseph Oavid, assistant-overseer, waited upon the Board to explain the position they, a* overseers, found themselves in in consequence of the disastrous strike. Mr William Jones ex- plained that they were just preparing their new rate, and were anxious to keep it down, if pos- lsble, if not so low as last time, at lea^t- nearly so. They found in making the rate, there WM a loss in the rateable value of the parish of £8,000 at present, but he might tell the Board they had only in that rate to consider three months of the strike, but when their successors came to deal with the six months following there would be a loss of L13,000, and the five months' strike would affect three of the forth- coming rates. The overseers were anxious if f possible to issue a lesser rate for that reason, more particularly because they thought the i general body of ratepayers would be far better ?r able to pay six months hence than in the imme- diate future. They would be glad if the Board could see their way clear to issue a preceptlem --han the previous one. The last was £ 3,500. The overseers had not received the precept, but they were expecting it, every day, a precept which was E600 larger than the preceding one. Thev purposed seeing the Finance Committee of the Guardians the following clay to lav their ase before them. Onr- thinz they wished to nomt out: they did not wish the Board to isaua a lesser precept now and then a larger one for 4-he succeeding six months.. They wished to point that out very forcibly, because they bought the rateable value would be much less vhan it was now, but if th«< Board could see -heir way clear to reduc the expenditure then they hoped to levy a rate somewhat similar to the last six months. They would like to point out that that had been ii- bv other rating authorities, and the Comity Council had done .?• Board could take the overseers' posi- bon into consideration, and help them in their •umcult task, they would he very grateful. The chairman said there were buildings in course of construction, anJ they could not cur- i-ail in that respect. He could assure the over- seers that the Board would not spend, a penny more than that they were bound to. That had ^een their motto during the past 12 months. He would say that matters did not look so gloomy for the next six months because there were certain railways fhich would be able to meet a good portion of what hact been lost dur- in, the strike by an increase ot rates. Mr F. Hill and Mr Joseph David also spoke. to iLke? HaTO y°U any Mr. Joseph David: If you have intended any extra expenditure we would be trkd if you kind- ly save them for a time. We are anxious to meet your precept. £ at. their last preoept was £ 3,500. It would be impossible to work the Board for the next half-year without calling £ 3,500, because they were already overdrawn. He thought if the Board were to call 23,000 with grants of ESOO, that would do very well. Mr W. Jones said that the loss of revenue MSHmtng the next rate to be Is 6d, would be £ w)4, and_the following half-year having to con- L 1116 Strike' tbe loss wou'd be £ 1.007 so that the suggestion of the clerk wouM materially assist the overseers if, when their revenue was lower, the Board would be asking for £500 less. The Chairman: It is to be hoped we will be able to do that. After the deputation withdrew the clerk was instructed to write to the head-teachers in the various schools asking them to curtail expenses as much as possible.

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