Imágenes de páginas

The Relation of Indebtedness to Governmental Property and Funds. Attention has already been called to the fact that under the laws the permanent property and public improvements of cities and other civil divisions do not bear the same legal relation to indebtedness as do the fixed properties of private enterprises. They are resources for certain governmental purposes, but not of the financial business of governments, and hence are not even constructively assets, except in the case of watersupply systems and other specified properties, where by reason of their character they are made a legal offset to the debts incurred in their acquisition. The same statement holds true of the principal of public trust funds for governmental uses, which are funds appropriated for the uses specified, as are the properties and public improvements. While, however, these properties, public improvements, and funds are not "assets" in the commercial sense of that term, they have an important relation from the standpoint of both business and accounting to the public debt. They have been acquired in part by the use of money obtained from these debts, and the administrative requirements of good government make it necessary that these properties and public improvements should be brought and kept under accounting control, and that the accounts should be so kept as to disclose the present and prospective relations between the values of properties, public improvements, and public funds and the public indebtedness. This relation is shown for New Bedford by the third division of the balance sheet, which is arranged primarily to show the condition existing at the close of the year, when all the authorized constructions and loans have materialized. It includes the amount of unappropriated assets brought forward from division one, the net indebtedness of division two, and the value of the property, public improvements, and funds not presented in these divisions. The balance is the net contribution to or the proprietary interest of the taxpayer in the properties, improvements, and funds of the city at the close of the fiscal year on the basis of the authorizations stated in the balance sheet.

Indebtedness and Property

The balance sheet presented is not an accurate statement of the present or prospective financial condition of the city, since it makes no allowance for past or current depreciation in the value of public properties and improvements. It is, however, arranged so as to show how accounts with current depreciation should be treated in a balance sheet, and thus enable it to be prepared in such a form that it will become a true exhibit of the esent and future financial condition of the city govern



To secure correct monthly statements and provide information relating to the governmental financial condition that shall be of value to any one of the three classes of people just mentioned, the accounts and balance sheets of the city must provide for a proper presentation of all the facts whose records are summarized in the accompanying statement for New Bedford.'

The importance of the municipal balance sheet and of monthly statements derived therefrom is sufficiently established by the quotations from the Census report.

To the development of such statements along the lines so well laid down by Mr. Powers must the attention of accountants be given in the future until satisfactory standard forms for such statements are devised and installed in all municipalities.

These results will be finally attained probably through the instrumentality of "Uniform Accounting Boards" of the various states under the leadership of the Census Bureau, assisted by expert accountants and others who have had experience and have given careful attention to these subjects.

NOTE: Copies of this balance sheet can be had upon application to the City Auditor of New Bedford or of Mr. Chase.-EDITOR.

The Present Status of Instruction in Municipal Government in the Universities and Colleges of the United States1

Assistant Professor of Government at Harvard University
Chairman of the Committee

"It is manifest that the instruction of the people," wrote Thomas Hobbes in his Leviathan, "dependeth wholly on the right teaching of the youth in the universities." The English philosopher no doubt grossly overestimated the influence which the institutions of higher education are capable of exerting upon the political ideals of a people; for the universities and colleges of the land constitute but one of the channels,-and perhaps only one of the minor channels-through which sound political doctrines may be disseminated. At the same time it is to be remembered that the universities and colleges of the United States have come to include upon their rolls of attendance a steadily increasing proportion of the young men and young women of the land; that these do not represent merely the average run of American youth, but an element which is far above the general level in intelligence, ambition, and in the promise of political capacity. It is not alone a select element in the national population, but an element which is almost uniformly made up of individuals at the formative period of life. No one with experience in collegiate teaching, if he be at all observant, can fail to notice the extremely plastic nature of the undergraduate mind, its entire receptivity, and its wholly undiscriminating acceptance of what may be laid before it. It is at this

1 Report of the Committee on the Coördination of Instruction in Municipal Government.

stage more than at any other that a man's general attitude toward political, social and economic questions is apt to be definitely framed. Impressions made at this stage usually sink deep, and can be eradicated only with slowness and difficulty. The task of the teacher of political science is therefore one of extreme responsibility and is the embodiment of an unusual opportunity. It is the privilege of such teachers to afford annually to thousands of young men, drawn from the best homes in the land, their first definite impressions concerning the nature of the state and the workings of its administrative organs. This is a high privilege and presents an opportunity for influence such as is given to but few professions. But the privilege is not more than commensurate with the responsibility involved; for upon the zeal and capabilities of the instructor will depend in large measure the extent to which the student's interest in the affairs of government will be aroused, the attitude which he will assume toward the problems of government when he goes out into the world, and the fund of useful information which he will be able to turn to account in fulfilling the duties of active citizenship.

It was with these features in mind that the National Municipal League established, some years ago, its Committee on Instruction, and entrusted to this body the task of securing such cooperation among teachers of municipal government as might prove possible, as well as such coordination of instruction in this subject as the varying character of different universities and colleges might permit. It was hoped that by mutual interchange of views between instructors engaged in this work the efficiency of the instruction might be increased, and that the successful experience of each teacher might be made to serve the profit of all. This task, the committee hopes, has been in some degree accomplished. It has not been the committee's aim to advocate any definite system or method of instruction in municipal government, much less to carry on a propaganda for any political principles. On the contrary it has consistently recognized that the scope of instruction must relate itself to the resources of th university

The Task of the Teacher

The League's

on the
of Instruction

which undertakes it; that the methods of instruction must relate themselves to the tastes and capabilities of the instructor who imparts it; and that when instruction ceases to be a scientific and impartial presentation of facts, conditions and problems and becomes the vehicle of any propaganda it forthwith loses its chief claim to the consideration of scholars. The chief work of the committee has been, therefore, not the advocacy of any principle or practice; but the collection of such data as might seem to be of service to teachers and the placing of this at the disposal of those whom it might interest.

It was in keeping with this general policy that, during the past year, an elaborate inquiry was conducted with a view to finding out just how much instruction in the subject of municipal government is actually undertaken by the different universities and colleges of the United States, whether in special courses devoted wholly to this particular field or as part of the general programs of instruction in political science. To this end circular questionaires were addressed to more than 200 such institutions situated in every part of the Union and including educational establishments of every grade, from the largest universities down to the smallest rural colleges. Information was sought as to the number of independent courses in municipal government afforded by each institution; the number of students, undergraduate and graduate, enrolled in such classes; the amount of time devoted to this particular subject in connection with the general courses on sociology, economics, or government; the number of students who receive the benefit of this instruction; the scope of the different courses (e.g., whether confined to American cities or including European as well); the methods of instruction, whether by lectures, recitations, or other means; the opportunities afforded to students for investigating actual municipal machinery or for taking some part in active politicson these and a variety of like matters the committee sought precise information. On the whole the response was ready and cheerful; replies were had from over 160 institutions, and with these as a basis the committee has been able to obtain an accurate idea concerning the status of instruction in the country as a whole.

« AnteriorContinuar »