The New City Government January 1, 1898 Part VI


The Board of Public Improvements

Once every week the Board of Public Improvements will meet to authorize public works and improvements in the city and the various boroughs thereof, and to collect information and data for the guidance of the municipal assembly. This board is composed of a president, named by the mayor, at an annual salary of $8,000, the mayor himself, the controller, the corporation counsel, the commissioners of highways, street cleaning, sewers, public buildings, lighting and supplies, bridges and the presidents of the various boroughs. These latter will only vote when the matter under discussion by the board relates to matters of exclusive interest to the respective boroughs which they represent. Here is the distributing center of all public works, the board deciding which department is responsible for this or for that section of the public undertakings.

Even the municipal assembly cannot act without the approval of this board, it being unlawful for the first named body to enter directly into contract for any public work or improvement. If the board reports adversely to the assembly on any contemplated action of the latter body, any ordinance in regard thereto must be considered killed, unless a five-sixths majority vote, baked by the approval of the mayor (who, be it borne in mind, is a member of the board which will have disapproved it) is obtained. The scope of the work of this board may be most readily understood by reference to the preceding paragraph concerning those who compose the commission. It may be interesting to note, however, as regards the department of bridges, that the board of public improvements is given specific and dignified powers to regulate the fares which may be charged on the railroad of the New York and Brooklyn bridges and also to regulate tolls for this and other bridges within the city limits, where a fare is authorized by law.

The board is authorized to determine what portion of the expense of any public improvement shall be borne by the city and is given like powers with the assembly in the matter of assessments. Finally, the board alone has power to release any contractor with the city or any of its departments, the municipal assembly being without authority in this matter unless the unanimous approval of the board has been secured.

Levying Taxes and Assessments

Not only will there be a central department of taxes and assessments in the Borough of Manhattan, but branches established in each of the boroughs and placed in charge of deputy tax commissioners who are residents of that borough, will facilitate the efficient working of this department, at the head of which are a president and four commissioners of taxes and assessments, the first named receiving a salary of $8,000 a year, and each of the remaining four $7,000 a year. An annual record of the assessed valuation of the real and personal estate of each of the boroughs will be kept in each of the branch offices of the department, and be open to examination by the public from the second Monday in January until the first of may, each year. All persons will thus be given an opportunity to file complaints in case of their being dissatisfied with the assessments made upon them, and such complaints will then be taken up one by one by the department and considered. Churches and school buildings are exempt from taxation. Taxes will be levied during the months of November and December (roughly speaking) after due notice has been given in the City Record and in the public press, and a rebate of 6 per cent. will be allowed on all payments made on or before November 1. A daily statement of taxes received will be made by the receiver of taxes to the chamberlain.

A board of five assessors, appointed by the mayor, will make all assessments for local improvements other than those required to be confirmed by a court of record. In no case may an assessment be made which shall exceed one-half of the valuation of the property assessed.


Website: The History
Article Name: The New City Government January 2, 1898 Part VI
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle January 2, 1898
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