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it Ri10ndda Council's Finance. A?d!?of's Report. important Statement by the Clerk. A special meeting of the Rhondda District Council was held at the Council Chamber, Pentre, on Friday last. Coun cillor Ed. Jones, J.P., presided, and the other members present were Councillors Dr. W. E. Thomas, D. R. Jones, Walter Williams, Lewis Hopkins, D. C. Evans, W. H. Morgan, J. D. Williams, L. P. Gi-iSths. David Smith, Dr. A. G. Tribe, W. T. Jones, H. EL Maltby, Ben Davies, W. T. Davies, David Williams, W. D. Wight, Tom George". Grimth Evans, R. S. Griniths., and Danl. Evans. The Clerk said that that meeting was called as it was necessary for the Council to give a decision upon an important question arising out of the Auditor's Report before the close of the present year of accounts. The Auditor, in the year of accounts. The Auditor, ui his report, took exception to the manner in which the Council in the pa.s't had been making allowances in respect of properties owned and occupied by workmen-owners in the district. There, were. about 5,OCO such cases, and the practice in vogue at the pro-seat time was to allow a rebate of one- third of the rate to owner-occupiers of houses rated at tl.O and under, and he (Mr. Nicholas) had been requested to consider the legality of these allowances' and report thereon to the Council. He, therefore, would have to express 111F, views on this matter in order that the Council should give its decision as to the course to be pursued in future; but before he, dealt with that matter, he womd like to avail himself of this opportunity of dealing with a, para- graph which appeared in one of the lead- ing CardiS daily papers relating to the Auditor's Report. The circumstances under which the Auditor's Report came to be written were not stated in that L) paper, and in the interests of the Council, as well as to allay any uneasiness' which a, partial disclosure of that report might have occasioned in the minds of the ratepayers of the! dis- trict, he would like to make some brief reference to the matter. In the nt'st place, proceeded Mr. Nicholas, he desired to say that the- Auditor'.s Report was a. document written expressly for' the purpose of assisting,' the Council, and in response to an invita- tion made by the Council due to circumstances over which the Council had no control. He did not. want to make allusion to unfortunate circum- stances which had arisen in the discharge of duties by a person who had since died, but it was now known that certain dis- closures made in reference to that omcer —who was not, in the employ of the Council, but u'nder the control of the Guardians—made it necessary for the overseers appointed by the Council to take certain steps. The facts were now known to most of the ratepayers, and immediately the facts were disclosed to the overseers upon an >' audit of the Collector's accounts, they re- ported on the 10th April to the Council, and made a recommen- dation that the Council should approach the Guardians asking them to appoint a committee to meet a committee of the Council so that the future method of collection of the Poor Rate in the Parish of Ystradyfodwg could be discussed and agreed upon. In pursuance of that recommendation the Council appointed a deputation to wait upon the Guardians of the Poor Law Union, and on the 4th May this depu- tation waited upon the Guardians, and it was only fair to the latter to say that the proposals laid before them were very favourably received, with the result that step's were taken to approach the Local Government Board with a view that the omce of the, Collector' of Poor Rate, which up to that time had been under the .juris- diction and control of the Guardians, should be done away with so as to enable the Council to make the necessary arrange- ments for the collection of the Poor Rate, and consequent unifica- tion of the collection of all rates. He would like to emphasise the fact that this arrangement was made long anterior to the receipt of the Govern- ment Auditor's Report. When the Auditor was in the district to audit the accounts for -the year ending March 31st, 1907, he (Mr. Nicholas), acting, on the instructions of the Council availed him- self of the opportunity which was afforded them of having a gentleman of Mr. Propert's experience to give! them some recommendations in regard to the course they should adopt, not only a-s to the future collection of the Poor Rate, but also in relation to the general control of the finances, which the Council recog- nised would have to come under their review owing to the new circumstances which had arisen through the death of Mr. Joshua. Williams. The point he wanted to emphasise was that the appoint- ment of the sub-committee by the Council to investigate mattei'a and the action of that committee was not con- sequent upon the Auditor's Report, but that the latter was an outcome of the circumstances which had arisen, and which the Council itself had set in motion in relation to the consolidation of rates. The Council had .been committed to this policy for several years past. and it would have been brought about had all the omcers bee-ii under their control. It was known to the Council, but perhaps not to the parishioners, Mr. Joshua Williams held a statutory omce, an omce that could not have been put an end to without con- siderable compensation being paid. That was not the only complication they had to face. The rates for a part of the parish of LIanwonno were collected by Mr. Wm. Phillips, an omcer who occupied a. similar position to that held by the late Mi". Williams, but a twelvemonth before Mr. Williams' death the Guardians took steps to put an end to Mr. Phillips' omce. When, therefore Mr. Joshua Williams died, the decks were cleared, and the Council were able to take the nrst step towards bringing about this system of consolidation. A system such as this, however, could not be introduced in a moment. They had to get an order of the Local Government Board, and they had also to wait the Auditor's Report. which had been asked by the Council. Although the report was dated in the month of July last. it was not received by the Council until the 24th August. 1908. It waa laid upon the Council's t table at the next meeting after its { receipt, and what he protested against was that such prominence should now be give:! to the document, when representa- tives of the Press who were present at Li that meeting did not think it of sufficient importance to make some enquiry in regard to it. It was on a par with what appeared in that morning's papers, for whereas nominations of other districts in the South Wales coalfield were reported, those of the premier District Council in the Kingdom, and the most important municipality'in the Principality with the exception of Cardiff, were not considered of "nmcient importance to be recorded in either of the Cardiff papers. The Auditor's Report was discussed on the 2nd October, a.nd a. sub-committee was ap- e I e pointed at that very committee to go' into same. Pending the receipt of the Auditor's Report, the Council had allowed the matte!" of consolidation of rates, as well a.s the. consequential re-arrangement of omce staff, to remain in' abeyance. and that these matters were remaining in abeyance was evidenced by the fact that the Council on 8th May resolved, ou the motion of Councillor R. S. Grimths, and seconded by Councillor Dl. Evans, to make a temporary arrangement only for the collection of the Poor Rate. That reso- lution was passed in anticipation of the Auditor's Report, which had been asked for' by the Council with a view of their bein? advised by him as an expert as to the best method they should .adopt. Continuing, the Clerk said that certain matters had been raised in the Auditor's Report and had appeared in the Press, and which had gained a currency in the district. It was not the first time one had to clear up misapprehensions. He referred more particularly to the Gas and Water accounts, .and he complained that. the discussions in the Council were not given tlie prominence they deserved in the Cardiff papers. He hoped that what he had to say of the Gas and Water Department would be given prominence. They were told, he proceeded, that the position of the Gas and Water Works was unsatisfactory, and that there was a tremendous wastage of gas. With regard to the latter, it was quite true that they had reached the high-water ma.rk in .wastage in the year under review, but at the same time no notice was taken of the fact that the Rhondda. Tramways were being constructed that year, and that considerable leakage of gas occurred as the result of the works then. carried out. It was useless for them to expect to attain the impossible in this district. They lived in a great mining district, and the average for the Kingdom should not be taken as the average in a mining district. He had only to refer them to the chief private companies in mining districts, and in the reports of the Aberdare and Fern- dale Gas Companies, the directors had to record that tliM question of gas leakage wa's becoming a question of increasing dimculty. The Council had all. along been ajive to this fact, and realised that strenuous efforts should be made to reduce the wastage, and expert advice, had heen obtained as to whether this leakage could not be reduced. With regard to the financial aspect of the question, lie would respectfully draw attention to the fact that, although the gas and water undertaking had only been in the hands of the Council for ten years, ;e78,000 had been paid on account of the principal raised to acquire the under- taking. That was a very laudable result. He explained that. although they possessed the right to spread the repayment of the loan over a. period of 45 years, the Council, in the exercise of their wisdom, had decided to accelerate the payment, with the result that they had paid off .B21,OCO more than they need have done had they accepted the 45 years period. Thus, a sum of .615,000 which could have been spread over a, term of 45 years, had been spread over 10 years only, and would next year be paid off entirely. This might render them liable to criticism, but lie would say that the Council had adopted the wisest policy, the wisdom of which would be made manifest before many years would have passed by, and if any criticism arose through the adoption of this policy, it should not come from householders and small property owners. He felt confident that tins -)Iic.y of pay- ing off these larg, sums in days of pros- perity would be appreciated in the near future. Dealing with the question of profits, the Clerk said that In the ten years the Gas Works had been under the jurisdic- tion of the Council no less a, sum than .690,000 had been made by way of profit on gas, while 'the' profit on the water undertaking was !E42,000. Refemug to the Auditor's criticism of "false finance re the provision of a gas-holder at Tre- Oi'chy, Mr. Nicholas 'said that he did not admit the charge, and he was quite prepared to justify the policy adopted by the Council. It was known, said Mr. Nicholas, that for some reason, better' known at Whitehall than else- where, the authorities would not sanction a< loan for the manufacture of g,as unless Parliamentary sanction had been obtained for the manufacture of gas upon the land where the manufacture was to take place. They had an illustration of this at the time when the Council bought the old horse tramway depot at Perth, and although only a wooden fence divided the depot from their Gas Works, the Local Government Board refused sanction for a loan for the extending of their Gas Works on the adjoining site unless Par- liamentary powders were first obtained. Just at that time they were promoting

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it Ri10ndda Council's Finance.…

it Ri10ndda Council's Finance.…