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Value of buildings erected and not heretofore assessed : In the city of Washington .....
$2, 610, 175 In the city of Georgetown .....
110, 800 In the county of Washington...
............... Value of improvements and additions to buildings not here. tofore assessed : In the city of Washington.....
337, 475 In the city of Georgetown .....
............................................... Land in the county of Washington not heretofore assessed ..............
342, 175 10, 223
Total value of real property pot heretofore assessed .............. 3,178, 423 From which amount deduct on account of appeals and old buildings torn down or removed..............
292, 726 Making an increase of ......
...... 2,885, 697 over the assessment of 1875–76.
To promote the efficiency of the office and further the ends of good government in this District, we respectfully recommend that the pres. ent system of using both letters and numerals in the designation of lots be abolished, and that numerals alone be used. This, in our opinion, will be amply sufficient, as the use of both of them creates confusion. That the repetition of numbers of lots in the same square, as, for instance, two lots numbered one, &c., be prohibited. The adoption and rigid en. forcement of this rule will prevent an accumulation of errors which, under the present system, seeins unavoidable.
The simplification of the personal-tax schedules is recommended.
The immediate preparation of a numerical book for Georgetown. This is indispensably necessary, by the fact that in many cases the descriptions of property heretofore given are defective and incomprehensible.
The map of Georgetowu is incorrect, and needs attention.
A plat-book for the county, showing the various divisions and sub. divisions of farms and tracts of land into lots, their location, &c., is necessary.
That the office of assessor be placed on the same footing as the other heads of the various departments of the District government, being made by regular appointment for a term of service parallel with these.
A moment's reflection will show the importance of such a change, if efficiency and the best interests of the government be considered and fairness and satisfaction be desired. The present mode of appointment is annually to take new men and impose upon them duties of vast im. portance, with which they have no familiarity, to be compressed within the compass of a few months. Presently another set are introduced ; and thus, from year to year, the plan is continued, without the benefit of the skill and mature judgment resulting froin continued service. Novices in a difficult field, they scarcely begin to acquire those qualifi. cations indispensable to the proper administration of an office involving vast interests, which administration is so essential to the best exercise of your own functions as Commissioners, when they are compelled to retire to fields of private labor, their offices by and by to be turned over to another set of unskilled hands. Their duties have, of necessity, been imperfectly performed; complaints arise, dissatisfaction results, complications ensue, and the efficient collection of taxes is interfered with. In proportion as these evils prevail government is found to be a burden rather than a blessing. It is not strange that such a system results in an inefficient though expensive service. Within the past fire years the population and real estate of the District have largely in. creased. As a consequence, the ordinary duties of the office require longer time and greater skill and judgment. In addition, the assessment of personal property, with its large amounts and delicate discriminations, largely prolongs the time of necessary service and calls for the mature views gained only by experience. In view of these facts, it would hardly seem necessary to declare that a wise and economical ad. ministration of the duties of this office demands an abolition of its present temporary tenure, and its creation into what it really is one of the most important posts under your administration. We therefore urgently recommend that it be thus made permanent.
We have but one more suggestion to make, and that is one that has been so frequently and clearly presented, that needs but mention to commend it to your honorable body and all others interested. It is, that the Congress of the United States, custodians of an immense real estate situated within the District of Columbia, should make an annual and fair appropriation, in lieu of taxation of public property, toward the support of the immediate government of which it so largely reaps the benefit. In pablic documents and messages, from those of the Presidents of the United States to all officials interested in the administration of efficient government of tbis District; in able speeches in both houses of Congress, and in the exhaustive reports of committees that have considered this subject, the fairness of such appropriations has been placed beyond controversy. Such a step on the part of our patriotic legislators would but result in the diminution of taxation here as far as it is now felt to be a burden; in increased contentment among our tax-payers; in extended public improvements for the good of all parties, and in a more thorough administration of the school, sanitary, police, and fire departments.
In accordance with the recommendations above made, we present the following estimate as necessary for the support of this office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878, to wit:
For five assessors, at an annual compensation of $2,000 each....
tionery, &c .......
2,800 1, 200
G. A. BOHRER,
Assessors. The Hon. COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
Washington, D. C., November 28, 1876. GENTLEMEN : Agreeably to the request of the honorable commissioners, we submit for their information the annexed statement.
The assessments of personal property in this District since the report of the 15th instant, &c., are as follows:
Amount of assessments since the 15th instant ......
417, 420 1,368, 268
Personal assessments in Washington ..........
$12,011, 569 Personal assessments in Georgetown ..
.. 1,785, 628 Personal assessments in county .......
454, 169 Total amount to date ..........
......... 14, 251, 426 The amounts marked with an asterisk (*) include the 5, 6, and 8 per cent. stocks of Washington and Georgetown. We have the honor to be, &c.,
G. A. BOHRER,
Assessors. To the honorable COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
VIII.-ANNUAL REPORT OF ENGINEER OF DISTRICT OF
ENGINEER'S OFFICE, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, D. C., November 29, 1876. GENTLEMEN: I have the honor to transmit herewith my annual report for 1876, with appendices. Very respectfully,
R. L. HOXIE, Lieut. Engineers, U. S. A., Engineer of D. C. To the Honorable COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
ENGINEER'S OFFICE, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, November 30, 1876. GENTLEMEN: I have the bonor to submit herewith a report of the operations of this office during the year ending this date, together with such recommendations, made in accordance with your request, as have occurred to me for promoting the efficiency of the administration of matters now under my direction. I invite your attention to the appendices of this report, viz: the reports of the chief clerk of this office, the water registrar, the surveyor, the parking commission, the inspector of buildings, the overseer of repairs, the superintendent of property, and the overseer of lamps and gas; also the tables of contracts of the board of public works, the table of board rates, being the rates at which work was done under these contracts, the table of cash contracts, and the table showing the reduction of expenses by the organization of the force ander my direction.
At the date of my last annual report, November 30, 1875, there remained unfinished contracts of the late board of public works to the number of thirty-seven, with their various extensions and nodifications, under which work was still in progress. These have all been finally completed or terminated, in pursuance of the joint resolution of Congress dated March 14, 1876, and with the completion of the measurements and the statement of unsettled accounts, which await the action of some auditing authority yet to be created, this legacy of the late board of public works, the unfinished contracts for improvements, has been finally disposed of. In the tables which accompany this report there are shown the total expenditures under the board of public works and that under the Commissioners upon each of the several classes of con. traets resumed under your direction, togetber with the difference in each case between the expenditure as certified from this office and as audited by the board of audit.
The tables, with their recapitulation, and the explanatory statement prefixed to each, show the reasons for the apparant discrepancies between former reports of the board of public works and the detailed cost of completing the work of that board. They present, when taken in COD Dection with the files of this office and the books of the late board of audit, the means of auditing all unsettled accounts arising out of these contracts, and should effectually prevent the consideration of any fictitions claims. They have been prepared after an exhaustive examination of the records of this office, and of the accounts of the board of audit, as far as these relate to each and every contract of the late board
of public works, with its extensions and modifications, upon, which measurements were made by this office, and are complete in their exhibit of the total amount certified from this office, and the corresponding amounts audited in each case by the board of audit; but they contain no record of payments made. The measurements bave been made invariably under a rigid construction of contract, and questions of equity have not been considered in them. In the final adjustment of unsettled accounts, or the re-examination of any that may be re-opened, it will be necessary to examine the individual account of each contractor upon the books of the board of audit to ascertain what payments have been made to him and what amounts retained, and to check any possible overpay. ments upon each and all of his contracts. It is to be remembered that these unsettled balances of measurements to the amount of $87,337.77, as heretofore, payable in the District 3.65 bonds at par, are at present without any means of audit and adjustment. The board of audit, upon whose certificate the amount found due would have been payable in the 3.65 bonds at par, have no successors in office, the Commissioners being ouly, under the act of Congress dated March 14, 1876, the custodians of their books, records, and accounts, and the bonds are no longer available as a medium of payment. This is a matter which must be considered in connection with the unsettled claims and open accounts of the board of audit in respect to the manner of audit and meaus of payment, and should be taken up in connection with those accounts of the board of audit, to which attention was called by the Committee on District of Columbia, House of Representatives, during the recent session of the Forty-fourth Congress. I recommend this subject to your immediate attention.
From the last reports of the board of audit it appears that the whole amount to be provided for, including the amount due upon the abovementioned balances of measurements, is approximately $286,574.83 in the equivalent of 3.65 bonds. Whether this may be reduced when accurately stated upon future examination of the accounts of the board of audit can only be ascertained by the appointment of a board or commission competent to decide the various questions involved in the settlements to be made and to correct any errors or overpayments, and wbose decision shall be final.
The following recapitulation of tables one, two, three, and four, presents, in a condensed form, all of the principal facts in relation to the contracts of the late board of public works resumed under the Commissioners, or taken up for consideration by this office upon the request of the board of audit, and is a complete summary of the action taken by the Commissioners and by this office in the case of all of these contracts. The total expenditure under the Commissioners on account of work done and material furnished is given in this table, but the expenditures under the board of public works” do not include any audits on account of claims arising out of these contracts which may have been classified by the board of audit otherwise than under these contracts, nor the expenditure on account of work done under permits of the board of public works. Neither is any account taken of the cost of the old material found upon the streets. This latter bas been allowed in part to property-owners as a drawback upon their special assessments for improvements under the board of public works, has been paid in part by certificates of the board of audit, and remains in part unsettled and should be allowed upon special assessments to be hereafter made. In this table a comparison is made between the total expenditure under the Commissioners upon contracts and extensions of the board of public works and