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Real estate record and builders' guide: [v. 94, no. 2428: Articles]: September 26, 1914

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REAL ESTATE AND NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 26, 1914 aoiii m LIVE QUESTIONS FOR REAL ESTATE MEN | What Should Be Done About the City's Fiscal Condition—How Can Municipal Extravagance Be Stopped—The Unification of City Departments JK^' ::llliiilillilliillB ■iiliiPii mmssM A STRONG and urgent appeal for co¬ operation among all the taxpayers' associations during the coming year has been made to each association by the Advisory Council of Real Estate Inter¬ ests, which has been formed for the purpose of bringing about harmonious action on the part of the various real estate organizations of Greater New York for the protection of real estate interests. The council will act as an advisory body and constitute a medium through which property owners' associations can speak as a cohesive and co-ordinate unit. By thus federating the various associations, a consolidation of real es¬ tate interests will be consummated which will undoubtedly be for the best interests of every property owner. It is not purposed in any way to su¬ persede any of the present real estate associations, but on the contrary to strengthen them in their respective fields and to look to them to do the work and accomplish the ends desired. However, when it is found that the interests of property owners are not being care¬ fully conserved, the council will act in their behalf in every such instance. The Campaign for Unification. At the October meeting of the council, the unification of the various city departments and the State Depart¬ ment of Labor as proposed by the State Factory Investigatine Commission with reference to the inspection of buildings in New York City will be considered. The tentative plan of the State Factory Investigation Commission is the first concrete suggestion to be presented in the nature of a solution of the inspec¬ tion problem. As to whether it is ad¬ visable to unite the various departments now having jurisdiction over structural changes in buildings into one central department, or into several borough de¬ partments, has not been as yet deter¬ mined by the council. It is understood that all the Borough Presidents favor the latter plan, espe¬ cially since the central building depart¬ ment under the Charter of 1898 with a directing board of three members ap¬ pointed by the Mayor with local offi¬ cers in the borough proved to be un¬ successful. On the other hand, the Real Estate Board, the pioneer real es¬ tate organization, in endeavoring to ameliorate the condition of the proper¬ ty owners in regard to oppressive reg¬ ulations, and which is represented upon the council by its President, L. M. D. McGuire, has appointed a committee to confer with the members of the State Factory Investigating Commission upon the feasibility of one central department. The various phases of this question must be considered, as well as to what departments should be included in the central building department. In this re¬ snect the advice of the members of the Advisory Staff of Experts will be of in¬ valuable assistance. This Staff of Ex¬ perts consists of Messrs. Louis Haro- witz, Otto M. Eidlitz. Henry W. Hodge, Amos L. Schaeffer. John P. Leo. Julius Francke, James A. Henderson and Peter. HON. CYRUS C. MILLER. J. McKeon, and to these gentlemen will be referred for consideration the vari¬ ous plans that mav arise. Stopping Municipal Extravagance. A plan for eliminating unnecessary and extravagant .expense items from the proposed city budget is being carefully worked out by a sub-committee of the council. The preparation of a city bud¬ get is very technical, so that the prob¬ lem of eliminating unnecessary ex¬ penses is not one easy of solution. The expenditure of public moneys can be easily criticised in vague and glittering generalities, but sane and sound sug¬ gestions for the economical conduct of the city and state governments must be grounded in fact. There is no doubt that the city and State administrations would welcome constructive criticisms and probably would exclude items, where the omission would not entail sacrifice of departmental efficiency. However, the council purposes to ex¬ amine the city budget as closely as pos¬ sible although progress in cutting ex¬ penses may be made but slowly, but with the certainty that definite results will ultimately be accomplished by painstaking comprehensive examina¬ tion of the budgets aj they are an¬ nounced. City's Fiscal Policy. The final question for the considera¬ tion of the council will be the fiscal pol¬ ity of the city, as to under what condi¬ tions it would be advisable for the city to issue corporate stock in the form of fifty-year Jjonds and under what condi¬ tions it would be advisable for the city to issue short term bonds. This is a question of vital importance at the pres¬ ent moment, since it was a salient feature in the recent loan of one hundred mil¬ lion dollars to the city by a local bank¬ ing syndicate. The fiscal policy of pay- inp- city debts as they fall due insisted upon by the banking syndicate as a con¬ dition precedent to making the loan is doubtless a good business proposition and based upon good fiscal reasoning, but on the other hand the weight of taxation necessary to meet our obli¬ gations as they fall due will press heav¬ ily upon real estate taxpayers. Conse¬ quently the council believes that since real estate must oay the largest share of this tax levy, such a fiscal policy for New York City should receive thorough study, particularly when the present tax levy is very burdensome. The Bonded Debt. The duration of improvements often¬ times makes it possible to extend the bond issue to pay for the improvements over a number of years, but this policy in itself has made the bonded debt oi the city rise by leaps and bonds. Under these circumstances, a definite fiscal policy must be carefully worked out on the part of the real estate associa¬ tions and when finally decided upon as just to the property owner and for the best interests of the citv, then the ap- proxiniately one hundred taxpayers* as¬ sociations will be requested to endorse the policy and stand as a unit in its defense. At the October meeting of the Ad¬ visory Council, certain phases of the Inheritance Tax Law, and the Secured Debt Law will be examined, inasmuch as it is understood that a plan for their repeal is being initiated and the Council is much interested in the proper con¬ servation of personal property. Also, at this meeting a feasible policy for devel¬ oping our harbor and terminal facilities, with an examination of the merits of the free port, will be studied; also, the pro¬ posed distribution of local assessments for benefit, the constitutional conven¬ tion, and certain phases of the Work¬ men's Compensation Law, which are now burdensome to real estate, and in many respects are so vague as to require specific amendments to be made at the next Legislature. Certain provisions of the new war tax bill affecting financial institutions and real estate will also be thoroughly examined. From time to time, announcements will be made of the reports made by the various sub-com¬ mittees of the council, which it is be¬ lieved may be of interest and of value to the property owner. Efficiency Recognized. During the short existence of the council, its work has received favorable recognition as well as that of the asso¬ ciations which it represents, by the ap¬ pointment of members of the council to the various city and state commissions having to do with real estate, such as the Committee on Taxation and Com¬ mittee on City Planniu'^ as well as the State Factory Investigating Commis¬ sion. By being thus nlaced directly in touch with administrative work, a just recognition has been made of the ef¬ fective work done in behalf of the indi¬ vidual real estate owners by the coun¬ cil and the original constituent organ¬ izations of the council, the Real Estate Board, the Allied Real Estate Interests and the United Real Estate Owners' Associations.