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in the leisure at his disposal, tell which ones were excessive and permitted the wasteful or extravagant expenditure of money. Under such circumstances, those interested in special departments or particular appropriations could sometimes secure more than their just share of the public money; and others unable to stir up as much tumult, or raise as much dust to throw in the eyes of Congress failed to secure sufficient appropriation to perform the duties which could reasonably be demanded or expected from their office. The budget recently prepared by the Auditor and forwarded with the approval of the District Commissioners for action by Congress next winter, is arranged on an entirely diferent basis. It presents exhibits of past expenditures for a series of years, classified according to the functional activities of the municipal government. It shows the changes made in the grants of Congress for all these activities during the years covered by the figures. It asks for appropriations within limits specified for the ensuing year, and further asks that Congress in making its appropriations may not only authorize expenditures in amounts such as are asked for, but in the form requested; so that accounts may be kept and reports made along the lines now recommended by all civic associations and by all students and teachers of governmental finance.
The allotments made by the Auditor and the Commissioners for particular departments and specified purposes may or may not be the expression of the best civic judgment. It is hoped that they are representative of that judgment; but they may all be conceived in prejudice and begotten of ignorance of actual conditions and needs, and yet I would in that case as in the one first stated, recommend the form of the budgetary estimates submitted, and join in the recommendation of the Commissioners that the appropriations be on the lines cast of the estimates submitted. As a resident of Washington, I so recommend because the form presented is one which will best enable every slighted interest, if such there be, to demonstrate that fact in the most convincing manner. It is a form of financial proposals which will be readily understood by the people of the District; and when this fact sinks into the public consciousness, great numbers of our citizens who have hitherto taken no vital interest in
our common affairs because they could not understand the issues involved, will be roused to activity; and thus aroused, a practical consensus of public opinion can at no distant future period be reached, with reference to the actual and relative public expenditures that should be authorized for the support of our various governmental activities.
Washington is the capital of the nation; and if its accounts and budgets can be arranged to reflect the recommendations of all those who have made a study of the same from their relation to good and efficient government, the action at Washington will have an early and widespread influence for good in every municipality on this continent. It will also exert a beneficent influence in the preparation of national and state budgets and appropriations, and in the form of all governmental reports and accounts. Shall not the voice of this association be raised to support the action of the Auditor and Commissioners of the District of Columbia in favor of the proposed form of the appro priation act for the District of Columbia ?
Budget of the District of Columbia.
ALONZO TWEEDALE, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
Comptrollers and Accounting Officers.
I have been requested to address this association on the subject of the new budget form of the District of Columbia, a question correlated to that of Dr. Powers entitled “Municipal Budgets and Expenditures,” and as a practical subject, one which will, in view of its national character, tend to materially advance the cause and spread the doctrine of uniformity in municipal accounting
The budget is, to my mind, the most vital of all the important municipal objects. I am interested in the subject for three reasons.
First. As the auditor of the municipal government of the District of Columbia, charged to a large extent with the responsibilities of the financial transactions of that government, I have seen the beneficial effect of a tentative trial of some of the operations of the new budgetary form, and the results have far exceeded the most sanguine expectations.
Second. As President of the National Association of Comptrollers and Accounting Officers. Our association has given to the subject long and careful consideration, and has been the means of starting the budgetary movement in several cities where our representatives are located, and, moreover, the Association at its annual convention held in Louisville, Kentucky, in September, 1908, adopted the general form upon which the budget of the District of Columbia has been constructed.
Third. After years of study given to municipal plans and expedients, I am satisfied that at this point in the life of municipal business, the yearly consideration and preparation of the budget, must originate that legislative and administrative control which will develop and ascertain the facts pertaining to the need of cities, thereby making possible those allowances and restrictions which will warrant that each function of government is receiv
ing that part of the revenue fund to which it is entitled, and, also, by an analytical and restrictive process prevent the misappropriation and conversion of the municipal fund. Moreover, in a wellorganized budget, constructed upon business principles, there should appear the general outline of the accounting to be followed in the statement of the city's accounts and reports of the business transacted, and through which accounts as extended by means of analytical and statistical tables, it will be possible to intelligently operate the financial control of cities, upon which control, to a very large extent, depends the economy and efficiency of administration and the knowledge that the legislative control, as operated through the administrative control, is neither perverted nor diverted.
The budget of the District of Columbia must differ in some respects from that of other municipalities, for in this jurisdiction the control is placed, not in the hands of the local citizenship but, in the hands of the whole people of the United States through Congress under the terms of the Constitution of the United States, in the following language:
The Congress shall have power to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may by cession of particular states and acceptance of Congress become the seat of government of the United States.
Under this grant of power the Congress of the United States, by an act approved June 11, 1878, created a commission form of government, which act was entitled “An Act providing a permanent form of government for the District of Columbia," this being in all probability the earliest permanent form of government by commission in the United States.
In order to give a clear and comprehensive view of the operations, needs and requirements of the District budget, it will be necessary to invite your attention for a moment to the peculiarities of this government.
Under the act above referred to it is provided, the President of the United States by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, is hereby authorized to appoint two persons, who, with an
officer of the Corps of Engineers of the United States Army whose lineal rank shall be above that of a captain, shall be Com
missioners of the District of Columbia. That Government of
the two persons appointed from civil life shall, Washington
at the time of their appointment, be citizens of the United States, and shall have been actual residents of the District of Columbia for three years next before their appointment, and have, during that period, claimed residence nowhere else.
The act as amended, among other things, provides that the tax rate of the District of Columbia shall be one and one-half per cent. on real and personal property, and that this rate shall be assessed upon the real property within said District at not less than two thirds of its actual value, and that the rate should be applied to personal property upon the basis of its fair cash value. The receipts from these sources of revenue, as well as all licenses and fees, are paid to the collector of taxes, and are by him, under the requirements of law, deposited daily in the treasury of the United States.
In lieu of taxes upon its real-estate holdings or other forms of contribution, the Federal Government, in order to provide the means of enabling the municipal government to maintain streets and avenues of the size required in a national capitol, and to provide for the extra police and fire protection, and the extra health and sanitary measures, and the innumerable additional and extra requirements of a city embracing within its civic life that of the national capital of the United States, has provided that the commissioners shall submit to Congress a statement in detail showing the work proposed to be undertaken by them during the fiscal year next ensuing and the estimated cost thereof; and it is further provided that to the extent to which Congress shall approve of said estimates Congress shall appropriate the amout of fifty per centum thereof, and the remaining fifty per centum of such approved estimates shall be levied and assessed upon the taxable property and privileges in said District other than the property of the United States and of the District.
With this short review of the control of the District government, and the method by which it is derived, and of the authority