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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 88, no. 2276: October 28, 1911

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Vol. LXXXVIII OCTOBER 28, 1911 No. 2276 A MODERNIZED BOROUGH ADMINISTRATION President McAneny Has Brought About a Complete Departmental Reorganization With Control Through "Functional" Accounting.—More Work at Less Cost. THE Record and Guide gave last week a brief survey of the fiscal history of the city since consolidation. It pointed out that the tremendous rise in the bud¬ get of the greater city has been due very largely to unavoidable causes—causes which affect all growing cities and which must remain in operation for an indefi¬ nite number of years to come. Heretofore the rise in the budget has been met by a corresponding advance in taxes, but the existing sources of taxation are incapable further of yielding the augmented rev¬ enues demanded by the exigencie.'^ of an expanding budget. There are now only two ways open to the community for averting confiscatory taxation on the one hand, and for avoiding the danger of crip¬ pling the growth of the city on the other, through failure to provide wider streets, larger water mains, better pavements and a variety of other costly physical im¬ provements needed in the interest of com¬ merce and industry. One way is to develop the possibilities of sources of income, aside from the gen¬ eral property tax; the other is to see that service by describing in' detail the ad¬ ministration of some of the important city offices that affect more or less directly the interests of real estate. For the pur¬ pose in hand, namely, that of helping to secure economy in the administration of city affairs, it is less important to call attention in these columns to incapable officials than to insure recognition of merit where this is due. Owing to the watchfulness of many ofRcial and non-of¬ ficial agencies, incompetence in office is pretty certain to be discovered and ex¬ posed. However, these agencies do not, for a variety of reasons disclose with equal certainty the material for a due ap¬ praisal of elTiciency. In earlier articles the Record and Guide has given an account of the notable ad¬ ministrative improvements introduced in the Tax Department and in the office of the Borough President of the Bronx. Of the remaining Borough Presidents, two have rendered distinguished service as ad¬ ministrators. To the achievements of one of these the present article is devoted. Mr. McAneny has admittedly given much of obtain, and, through his influence with the Board of Estimate, obtained the facts necessary for the studies he sought to undertake. He has outlined a construct¬ ive program which he has no hesitation in recommending to" the city for adoption," This program rela-tes to the reconstruc¬ tion of street and subsurface improve¬ ments, and calls for special appropriations distributed over a number of years. Dur¬ ing the time it has been under consider¬ ation improvements which could be un¬ dertaken with the budget allowances cus¬ tomary to his office have been put into effect. Some of these will be described here, leaving the proposed constructive program for a later paragraph in this article. Stoppage of AVnstc. Mr. McAneny recognized that waste within city departments was of two dis¬ tinct kinds, one resulting from failure to collect that which was properly due the city and the other resulting from ineffi¬ cient administration. In order to save to the city all amounts due it, the Divi- ;?05-ii (Bl aso The City of New york Under Orders 5-.L<2 ...pays OPFlCeS OR TME COMMISSIOINER OR BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN PUBLIC WORKS DIVISION OF STONE BLOCK REPAIRS Summ so VDS. ary ot all Work Performed During Weak Ending.. ..? MATERIAL CTOBER 7TH- . .\5\1- OVERHEAD BUREAU OF HIGHWAYS EXPENSE TOTAL LA ao R Slant BiDchi All Olhors Tola! Amount CoitpOfSq.Yd ArTiDL,n( Coatp ,-So Vd Amaunt Co«1perSq.Yd. Ainaurlt CofltporSq-Vd, GENERAL REPAIRS On Conorelo Foundation 5f;50.7 108.08 1581,84 1689.92 .29 3545.43 .60 531.69 .09 5767-04 -9S On Sand Foundation 2373-2 28.80 67-91 96.71 .03 1351.80 .57 203.73 ■ 09 1652.24 .69 CORPORATION OPENINGS On Concrete FoundaMon 25s. 9 2.58 201.07 203-65 .60 211.23 .62 31.46 .09 446.34 1.31 On Sand Foundation K9-6 4.24 3.0s 7.32 .08 53.22 ■ 59 7.91 .09 68.45 .76 EMERGENCY OHOERS 1055.6 49.24 217.68 266.92 .25 732-75 .69 99.81 .10 1099."18 1-04 TOTALS, 9609.0 192.94 2071-5S 2264.52 .24 5894.43 -61 874.60 .09 9033-55 .94 FIG. 1. FUNCTIONAL ACCOUN'TING—■WEEKLY SUMMARY POR STONE BLOCK REPAIRS BY THE BUREAU OF HIGHWAYS. every appropriation for administrative purposes shall be as economically ex¬ pended as it would be in a well organized - private enterprise. The possibilities of new income are being studied by a com¬ mittee appointed by the Mayor. The re¬ port of the committee, it is safe to say, will not be of a kind to diminish mate¬ rially the existing burden of taxation. On the contrary, it is certain to emphasize the need of economy—economy, that is, not in the sense of a smaller budget, but in the sense of getting more effective work done for the appropriations contained in the budget. The rate of increase in the expenditures may be modified, even if the increase cannot be arrested. ISeoMoiny a Matter of Person.^. , The sort of economy that is here in¬ sisted upon is a matter of persons, not of political affiliations. It depends upon the administrative efficiency of the individual officeholders. The time has gone by when a taxpayer can afford to judge city officials by a lower standard than that applied to the directors of private corpor¬ ations in which he owned stock. The tax¬ payer should make it his business to be informed concerning the work of the vari¬ ous officials who act as his agents in the management of his taxable property, .-' and he must keep his mind free to judge / that work without bias. Holding the views outlined in the fore¬ going paragraphs, the Record and Guide is convinced that as a non-political news¬ paper it is in a position to render useful his time to rapid transit matters. Per¬ haps for that very reason adverse criti¬ cisms of his work in other directions have been widely accepted at their face value. Yet Mr. McAneny has given to his bor¬ ough a conspicuously economical and effi¬ cient administration. "Upon taking office," according to an associate of the Eorough President, "Mr. McAneny saw that the work he was called upon to perform was of two dis¬ tinct classes, that of administering the Department of Public Works, including the bureau of huildings, and that of initiating and carrying out certain plans that would restore to the citizen rights of which he had been deprived. These plans contemplated, for example, giving to the pedestrian free use of the sidewalk and relieving the congested, traffic condition of streets. The work as outlined in his mind required thorough study before ac¬ tion could be taken, in that it not only in¬ volved a readjustment of alleged prop¬ erty rights but would commit the city to an expenditure of many millions of dol¬ lars. I-Ie further recognized that the de¬ liberate study which his plans would in¬ volve would subject him to a criticism to which he would not have been subjected had he permitted himself to make a show¬ ing by proceeding with work at once whicii later developments would prove ill-ad¬ vised. "In order to obtain the facts necessary for his ultimate program, he secured the services of the best engineers he could sion of Audit and Accounts was called upon to ascertain the flnancial status of the borough administration in its relation to the public and to other city depart¬ ments. Tlie result of this work is plainly seen from the trial balances and reports rendered by the department. At present a monthly statement is made of all re¬ ceipts and disbursements, which state¬ ment is under as accurate control as are similar statements rendered by finan¬ cial corporations. The city has profited financially by this in that bills in large amounts due from railroad companies for paving and other wori; have been assem¬ bled and forwarded to the Corporation Counsel for collection, with the result that over $100,000 has been collected. iMuch larger sums are in litigation or awaiting final settlement. The records of the department also showed that a considerable sum of money was in the hands of the city that right¬ fully belonged to those who had made de¬ posits for permits to open or damage the pavement. A full list of all these refunds was made out and the parties to which refunds were due were notified with the result that perhaps IJoO.OOO has been turned back to people, many of whom were ignorant that they were entitled to any money. In order to stop administrative waste, the Division of Audit and Accounts was directed to install cost accounts which would show accurately what it was cost¬ ing the borough administration to per-