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— WHY THE POOR RATES ARE HIGH IN THE TOWYN PARISH. A SERIOUS MATTER FOR THE RATEPAYERS. [SPECIALLY CONTRIBUTED, j There is nothing that touches the ratepayers more acutely than the question of the rates. They are at all times ready to assert that the rates are unreasonably high and that a sufficient surveillance is not kept over their interests by ther representa- tives. Sometimes this assertion is true and some- times it is not. My object this week is to endeavour to show that the ratepayers of the Towyn parish are not fairly treated by the Machynlleth Guardians, to arouse the ratepayers to a sense of their duty in face of this injustice, and, if possible, to originate an agitation with the view of having the parish separated altogether from the Machyn- lleth Union. The particulars in regard to which I shall write are to be seen in the abstract of accounts for the year ending March 25th, 1899, which has just been published in book form. In the first place it may be of some interest for the ratepayers to know who are their representatives on the Board, and for that reason the subjoined list is given of the members for the paiish Messrs Wm Jones, corn merchant, Aberdovey; Richard Morgan, contractor, Brync-rug John Owen, farmer, Penllyn, Towyn Meredith Jones, farmer, Caethle Humphrey Jones, farmer, Cae Ceinach, Penaal; and J Hughes Jones, Aberdovey, as an additional Guardian. Of the above Messrs Hughes Jones, John Owen, and Meredith Jones, are members of the Assessment Committee. On glancing at the general rules adoptei by the Guardians, I find they have been carefully drawn out and, if strictly adhered to, they afford protection for the ratepayers. The following rule is an excellent one: That the relieving officers shall furnish the Guardians of the respective parishes three days before the meeting of the Board with a list of the cases in each district, to be considered thereat." I should like to know if this rule is faithfully complied with, not only by the relieving officers, but by the Guardians. The object of the rule is to afford the Guardians suffici- ent time to make the necessary inquiries into the circumstances of the paupers seeking relief, but do the Guardians make inquiries in all cases or are their efforts on behalf of the ratepayers confined to the Board meetings ? The financial statement shows that a sum of £1,676 18s 6d was contributed by the parish of Towyn last year towards the funds of the Board. This sum was spent in the following way £ 132 went to clear off the balance against the parish at the commencement of the year; X804 5s 3d was devoted to common charges; .655 to separate charges; X10 4s 8d to workhouse loan and interest repaid; C562 3s 9d county rates; and there is a sum of X112 17s 2d balance in favour of the 2 parish at the end of this year. Let us now see how much the poor receive from the large sum raised in rates. In the parish of Towyn the number of paupers last year was 71, and they received the total sum of C507 4s, not one-third of the contributions paid during the year. How- ever, out of the total P,1,676 18s 6d certain deductions have to be made for expenses connected with the administration of the relief, and this brings down the total sum contributed by Towyn parish for out-door relief to 2799. It will thus be seen that as long as Towyn parish contributes z6799 towards out-relief and only receives C507 4s it pays a sum of X291 16s towards the support of paupers from other parishes with which this parish has nothing to do. For the year ending March, 1898, the Towyn parish contributed X244 6s 2d in excess of what its out-door paupers received. Where does the money go ? This is an interesting query, but let us before proceeding find if there are other parishes which pay more than they receive. I find that the following parishes have a similar grievance, but not to the same extent as the Towyn parish-Caereinion Fechan X2 4s in excess, Darowen £ 2 10s 3d, Llanwrin £ 24 12s, Scuborycoed, £ 1 5s, and Uwchygarreg £ 58 8s 6d. The following parishes receive in excess of their contributions the following sums :—Cemmes X37 Ss, Isygarreg £ 26 18s 8d, Llanbrynmair X158 13s 9d, Machynlleth X31 198 5d, Penegoes 176 12s 6d, Pennal .646 6s 7d. The title usually applied to parishes unable to maintain themselves is pauper parishes," and there seems to be a very large number of them in the Machynlleth Union. In the year 1898 it was also found that these parishes had to be supported by other parishes, C244 6s 2d being taken from the ratepayers of Towyn parish. The worst sinner in this direction is the parish of Llan- brynmair, which receives no less than P,159 13s 9d. The rich parish of Machynlleth has to be supported to the extent of X31 19s 5d, whilst the previous year it received £ 59 Is 2d. Surely a town of the size of Machynlleth ought to be able to maintain its own paupers. On reference to the statistical statement it is found that the cost per head of out- door paupers in Towyn parish is £ 5 5s 8d, whilst at Machynlleth it is only £4 7s 9Jd. If Towyn was fairly treated the figures would give quite a different complexion, for in the comparatively small district of Machyn- lleth the number of paupers is 82 as against 96 in the whole parish of Towyn. It is high time that each parish should be made to maintain its own paupers and justice done to the ratepayers through- out the Union. If a motion in favour of justice all round was brought before the Board I find that the total number of votes possible is 22. If all the members for the parishes which have a grievance supported a motion for every parish in the Union to maintain its own poor I find that 11 votes would be recorded for the motion. If all the others voted against the motion there would be 11 yotes includ- ing that of the chairman. But if the chairman did not vote there would be a majority of one for the motion. In the statistical statement I find that the rate. able value of Machynlleth has decreased from £7.103 in 1898 to X7,096 in 1899, and the assessable value from X6,344 to £ 6,337. As regards Towyn it has increased from 118,200 to S19,144, and the assess- able value from X14,473 to .615,441. With the exception of Towyn nearly all the parishes show a decrease in their rateable value. Where there is an increase it is of a few pounds, but in the parish of Towyn—this parish which distributes its money all over the Union-there is an increase of nearly EL,OCO. Have no new buildings been erected at Machynlleth, or, indeed, have some of the dwelling houses there been closed ? It is high time that the representatives of this parish should wake up and lay the whole case plainly and seriously before the Board. Great complaints are made in this district that buildings are assessed too heavily and that our representatives do not stand up for the ratepayers at the Assessment Committee but go against them. To me it is evident that the rates in other parishes should be increased and those in the parish of Towyn decreased. One more complaint against the members for the Towyn parish and I shall close my remarks for this week. Would it not be better for them to sacrifice a whole day at Machynlleth instead of a halt day in order to try and see this matter rectified. As soon as the relief list for the parish of Towyn is gone through, the Towyn members leave the Boardroom to the rest of the members of the Board who are allowed to do as they like in fact, it is a general complaint at the Board that the members for the parish of Towyn leave the room before the relief list is completed. I trust that in future more watchfulness will be shown towards the interests of the person who has to pay the piper."