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THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Published weekly by the
University of North Carolina
for its Bureau of Extension.
DECEMBER 12, 1917
CHAPEL HILL, N. C.
VOL. IV, NO. 5
ISditorial Board • E. G. Branson, J. G. deR. Hamilton, L. R. Wilson, R. H. Thornton, G. M. McKie.
Entered as second-class matter November 14,1914, at the Postofflce at Chapel Hill, N, C., under the act o( August 24,1912.
COUNTY TAX INJUSTICES
Dr. 0. L. Raper, Professor of Eco
nomics in the University of North Carolina
addressed the N. C. Oub at its recent
meeting, on The County Tax List and
Dr. Kaper has long been a diligent stu
dent of tax theories in general and of tax
problems in North Carolina in particular.
Varioii-s pamphlets and newspaper ar
ticles have given to the public his analy
sis of the situation in Nortli Carolina,
Along with his constructive suggestions.
They are widely known and need not be
He spoke to the Club off-hand, and we
are here giving only a brief running sum
mary of ilia remarks. Our readers will
fairly set them against the body of tax
doctrines for which he is well known to
The Important Units
In most states, said Dr. Raper, the
county tax machinery and methods are
fully proscribed by the legislature, and it
is so in North Carolina. Here tlie county
is the administrative unit, but the town
ship is the assessing unit. The township
assessing of land and the township listing
of taxables of all sorts make the all im
portant beginning; and here originate the
inequalities tliat vitiate onr system from
bottom to top. And here it is that the
inequalities of the tax burden begin. Our
system breaks down first in town.ship as-
8es.smenl, next in the failure of the coun
ty boards to equalize assessment values
among townshii)s within county lines,
and last in the inequalities that exist
among the counties of the state, which
only the State Tax Commission can re
State Authority Supreme
The State Corporation Commission,
which acts as the State Tax Commission
and also as tlie State Bank Commission,
has general autliority over tax assess
ments, but rarely lias it exercised its full
power—only once indeed in a decided
manner. Under this Commission, there
is a county assessor who is appointed for
one year out of every four. He must
complete ills work in about 75 working
days, a-iid he cannot receive more than
four dollars per work day. He is usually
appointed tax assessor because he has no
better jol>,. and in a majority of cases he
is inefficient. Under the county assessor
is ti)e townsiiip assessor, who does tlie
actual placing of values on the tax books.
He cannot receive more than three dol
lars 4>er work day and usually he com
pletes his work in about 50 work days.
During three years out of every four, the
town.ship as-sesaor is under no direct su-
'Thei c is a county board of equalization
vhich passes on all complaints made by
,he taxpayers and has the authority to
iquahzc the township assessments. It
iompletc.s this enormous job, as a rule,
n a short session of three or four hours,
wire a year. Few individuals complain,
md tlic Itoard usually accepts without
[uestion the work of the township assess-
(r,q. llius the township assessor does the
ea( work of assessment. His valuations
ire acoepted by the county commission-
>r«, vdiifli is tire county board of equali-
;al,ioH, and ttien by the State Tax Com-
ni.ssiom. lire State Commission instructs
he county and township assessors to put
lU property on the tax books at its true
ralye. It is actually put on the books at
5 to 95 j>er cent of its actual worth.
Jxamptes of inequalities in assessed val-
lations are countless.
We «MUSt work toward a uniform listing
)f ail properties at their actual worth,
lud-feia can be done only by competent
;ownahip asse.s3ors who have time enough,
lay enougi), and untrameled freedom
uid courage enougli for the task.
Itl conclusion, Dr. Raper offered the
allowing suggestions as a partial cure for
)ur existing evils;
1. A county a.ssessor on the job all the
larger, probably extended from the town
ship to the county.
4. All properties should be listed on
the tax books at their true values as re
quired by law.
5. A whole-time county assessor might
well supplant the county treasurer, whose
work could be turned over to some re
putable bank in the county.
OUR COUNTY FEE SYSTEM
Prof. E. 0. Branson, Head of Rural
Economy and Sociology in the Univer
sity, spoke before the North Carolina
Club on November 26 on The County
Fee System in North Carolina. His ad
dress was based mainly on an extensive
correspondence carried on with leading
men of affairs in 96 counties of the State.
This is the first time anybody lias ever
assembled in a reliable, wholesale man
ner the data about county fees and com
missions in this State; the counties on a
salary basis,' those on a fee basis, tlie
counties that have abolished the office of
treasurer, those with auditors or auditing
arrangements, and so on. Only the
brief summary and conclusions in Mr.
Branson’s address can be given here.
1. The fee system of compensating
county officers was in vogue in fifty
counties of the State in 1915, and fifty
counties were on a salary basis.
2. The line of division between fee
■and salary counties seems to be Ji75,000
of aggregate taxes of all sorts collected
and handled for State and county pur
poses. All but two of the salary counties
are above this level. Thirty-sLx of the
fee counties are below; • 14 are above it,
and probably ought to change to the sal
3. The fee plan of compensation is
best under primitive conditions—that is,
where populations are sparse, wealth
small, and courthouse business meagre
4. The salary plan is best in counties
W'here fees and commissions rise into to
tals that make excessive compensations
for service rendered—say, in counties
collecting $75,000 or more in taxes.
Salary Plan Failures
5. The salary plan with its guaranteed
salaries removes a certain incentive to
diligence and faithfulness. The officers
are tempted to neglect the collection of
legal fees that go into the county treas
uries and not into their own pockets.
6. If customary fees and commissions
are faithfully collected and honestly
turned over to the fee funds of the
county treasuries, the total is large
enough to pay all salaries in at least 58
counties of the State, and to leave bal -
ances for schools, roads, jail expenses, in
terest, and sinking funds. These sur
pluses are being wasted in most of the
salary counties. Court and county fees
in Nortli Carolina amount to some two
and a quarter million dollars annually.
7. Fee Funds in the salary counties
steadily tend to grow smaller; and tlie
salary plan as it operates at present in
most counties adds to the burden of the
general taxpayer. It succeeds best in
Guilford, Wake, New Hanover, and For
syth, in tlie order named—or apparently
8. Forty-three salary counties have inade
quate auditing arrangements, or none at
aU, and tlie fee funds are utterly neg
lected or are ridiculously small. Mani
festly salaries must come either out of the
county fee funds or out of the pockets of
the taxpayers; wherefore tlie interest
that taxpayers have or ouglit to have in
the auditing of'county accounts and in
fee and salary funds.
2. Brovision for a salary sufficient to
sure the enip'oyment of really compe-
nt 9'iscsso.rs. '
3. Tlie unit ot assessment should be
9. Competent county auditors perma
nently employed, or certified public ac
countants employed at stated intervals,
are necessary to instruct, advise, and
counsel court-house officers in the busi
ness details of their offices. County of
ficers are usually honest, but also they
are usually untrained in business matters.
10. In addition there is needed (1) a
state-wide plan of uniform county ac
counting, and (2) a state auditing officer
with a staff of competent field agents
busy the year round advising, counseling
and checking county officers in the han
dling of public funds.
The experience of other states demon
.Judge Steplien C. Bragaw.
AVe are coming, Motlier England, we
are coming millions strong.
Hand across tlie sea are reaching,
gripped to rid tlie world of wrong;
AVe are coming, stricken Belgium, ™
tliere witli you to face tlie foe,
Idedged to make the liaughty, Prus
sian pay in full for all your woe.
AA’e are coming, France, our sister,
tlie glorious and fair.
By your side we’ll soon be fighting in
the trenches, in the air;
And the Hun shall feel the power 'of
the men from o’er the sea,
AVe are coming and are swearing that
this whole world shall be free.
We are coming, fair Italia, land from
wliicii Columbus came,
AA^e, Colum'oia’s sons are coming, com
ing in Columbia’s name,
Now to raise our starry banner where
a Caesar wore a crown.
Knowing that when once we raise it,
nauglit on earth sliali tear it down.
UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
LETTER SERIES NO. 144
AA''e are coming, German Kaiser, call
your hosts from liill and plain.
Mass your men and mass your can
non, but your work will be in vain.
AVe are coming, German Kaiser, and
our coming sounds the knell.
Of your boasted German Kultur that
has made on earth a hell.
VA'e are coming, men of Europe, we
are coming millions strong.
There to stay and'ne’er to falter, tho’
the figlit be hard and long.
“To the end” sliall be our slogan—for
the world it SHALL be free,*;
And tlie evil power of despots crushed
at last on land and sea.
Hohenzollerns, Hapsburgs, liearken
to the last approacliing beat.
Of the footsteps of a nation that has
never known defeat,
Clad in armor of the righteous, caring
naught for German might.
We are coming, we are coming, there
to win or die for right.
CHINA WILL HELP US WIN
A Geography Lesson
I. By sending men as laborers into
France and England to release English
men and Frenchmen for the army. She
has already sent 100,000. She is con
stantly sending more.
Questions:—1. Has China such a very
large population from which to draw any
great number of men? How large? 2.
Is China thickly settled? 3. How can
she afford to send so large a number away
for any length of time? 4. How many
men is the United States planning to send
as soldiers? 5. How can a laborer re
lease a man for the army? 6. AVho are
now taking the places of the men who
were workmen but now are soldiers?
II. By furnishing iron ore. She has
vast deposits in Hupeh province, near the
Yangste River; she sends great quantities
to Japan wlio supplies it to the Russians
even now; she exports much iron ore.and
would export more if she liad a good sys-1
tern of mining and marketing it.
Questions:—!. Locate the Hupeli:
Province. 2, By what means would i
Japan send this iron ore on to Russia? 3. j
AVliy are good markets necessary for ex -'
tensive exportation of a product? 4. i
How can China he induced to mine more
iron ore? 5. Find other regions than the
one mentioned wliere iron deposits are
found in China. 6. How will it help
win the war to have China supplying a
great deal of iron ore to England and
France? 7. Where does the United
States get the iron ore it is using in this
III. By supplying coal. She now pro
duces over 10,000,000 tons a year; she has
great areas of coal. Some of the coal
companies are partly financed by British
business men; she already exports 2,000,-
000 tons yearly.
Questions:—1. AA'here are these vast
deposits of coal in China? Find them on
the map. 2. AVhat difference would it
make if many of the coal companies had
a great amount of German money invest
ed in their business? 3. Who gets the
coal exported from China? 4. Why is
coal so necessary in order to win the war?
5. How much coal does the United States
export every year? 6. How are our tor
pedo boats at sea kept supplied with coal?
IV. By supplying foodstuffs. China
has many uncultivated acres; her famines
have taught her the necessity for raising
more foodstuffs; every year she exports
Questions:—1. What different kinds
of food can China furnish? 2. AA^hich of
these is most important to the Allies? 3.
How could famines teach tlie lesson of
greater food production and saving? 4.
How is tlie United States helping to feed
the Allies? 5. AAlio supplies the food
for the United States army now in Eu
make commercial warfare on those who
are to go to the front, or on the families
and dependents they may have, should
have the eyes of censure riveted upon
him. AA'e should live or die together.
Cries of greed sliould be silenced. The
tongue of the agitator should be still.—
Judge AA'. M. Bond.
strate that state-wide auditing of county
accounts saves instead of wastes money.
The system could be modeled on our
state bank examiner plan. In ten years
such a plan restored $830,000 to the
county treasuries of Ohio.
The higher cost of living is pinching
the city folks who work for salaries, un
less tlieir wages have been largely in
creased to meet the heavier price scales
tor everything which they must buy.
But a prosperity beyond- the wildest
dreams has reached the agricultural dis
tricts. The farmers are in the midst of
an era of good times unparalleled in his
tory. Everything that can be produced
from the soil is selling at fancy prices
which so far overcome the difference in
the increased prices for the things
the farmer has to buy, that he is
left with a surplus on hand vvliich en
ables him to clean up his debts, buy more
land or deposit in the bank. The truth
of tills statement is best shown in the de
posits ot banks in the agricultural dis
tricts, which have increased more than
100 per cent over last year. Many far
mers are lifting deeds of trust which have
stood against tlieir land for a generation.
Banks, merchants, supply houses, ferti
lizer and stock dealers report collections
the easiest ever known.—Danbury Re
VICTORY OR RUIN
A word as to the duty of those who
will not be sent to face the cannon and
rifles of tlie battle field. Every person
should produce what he can. A starving
world appeals to us for food. Hunger
stalks abroad today over many countries
of Europe. It may come here. He who
feeds a soldier helps to win the war. Ex
travagance should be avoided and econ
omy practised. No waste should be per
AVe must-win or ruin awaits us. Every
' man whose avarice commands him to
There has jus^ come to hand No. I,
A'ol. 2 of The Oak, the school ; aper of
the Dallas Farm Life School'.' Its motto
of democracy. Equal opportunity for all
the children of all the people, still adorns
the front page. By the way, this motto
was taken from a sentence used by the
United States Commissioner of Educa
tion, Dr. P. P. Claxton, a North Caro
One of the items states that the present
senior class is the largest in the history of
the school and adds the interesting fact
that the entire last year’s faculty has re
This is good news indeed. Given a
good faculty year after year with a good
ichool spirit proud of its classes and its
work, there is bound to be a broadening
and deepening of life for every pupil in
attendance. How many other schools
have been fortunate enough to retain all
their last year’s faculty?
provides good public schools. N -gleet in
providing proper facilities for ih ■ educa
tion of American youth is a neglect of
America’s greatest asset. The nation’s
call for increased food production is
crowned with the appeal to incrcasj the
production of manhood and womanhood.
Right now is the time to begin the part
of shrewd discretion by taking stock of
what your community is doing for its
boys and girls. “There is no jesting
with edged tools,’’ and there is no jesting
with a community or a nation that
sharpens the wits of its children.
AVhile the young manhood of the na
tion is healing humanity’s wounds with
blood, the folks at home also have their
responsibilities—for humanity's sake.
The community with a ramshackle, di
lapidated, antiquated, dingy, insanitary,
poorly heated, poorly lighted, poorly
ventilated and poorly taught school is
squandering the time of its children and
is a blight on patriotism.
Make the School Better
LENOIR MOVING AHEAD
A news note the other day tells us that
Lenoir county is seriously considering the
plan of consolidating all her 40 or more
little rural schools and establishing 8
well organized, well equipped, conven
iently located schools. In order to pro
vide for those pupils living some distance
from a school a system of transportation
will be worked out.
This would be a wonderful piece of
school administration and county re-or
ganization if it can be put through. Just
consider what a splendid opportunity
would then be offered to every child in
the county. Better schoolsj longer terms
better attendance, better teacliing be
cause there would be less shifting of the
teaching force, better health for the
children and a general toning up of the
whole educational system.
This is a big movement along the right
lines and we hope it can be put through.
If we did not know that Dr. James M.
Parrott has the plan at heart and is do
ing all in his power to make it a success
we should be skeptical. As it is we be
lieve Lenoir can set the pace for the
state in having a real county system of
schools. AVe shall watch with interest
and high hopes.
In this age when brains, training and
well-directed efforts are the great prere
quisites for human success it is the part
of criminal neglect to let boys emerge
from ragged schools with ragged minds
to face a world that exacts action and
training. It is just as hard to stand an
empty bag on end as it is to make an
empty-headed boy a success. Institu
tions alone can create a nation, and the
public school is America’s greatest insti
tution. Make America greater by mak
ing its public schools better.
Certainly it requires money to do it,
but it will be economy for tlie commun
ity tightwads to loosen their purse
strings. Money spent to train the minds
and character of children not only places
a blessed heritage upon your own flesh
and blood, but it is a display of patriot
ism that will make your nation and your
flag greater.—The Country Gentleman.
The community that shows the great
est patriotism now is the community that
I propose that we take upon ourselves
five simple but solemn pledges. I have
personally taken each and ail, and God
being my helper I will keep them all.
Here they are:
1. We pledge ourselves not to say or do
anything during this war which will
weaken the hands of our go'vemment, or
which could give aid, comfort, or en
couragement to the enemy.
2. AVe pledge ourselves during this
war to do promptly and cheerfully all
that our government shall ask us to do,
the same being our power.
3. AVe pledge ourselves not to support
any candidate for office who does not
whole-heartedly support our country’s
cause in this war.
4. We pledge ourselves to not let the
family of a soldier suffer for want of any
thing we can supply.
5. AVe pledge ourselves to give pref
erence in all things, where practicable,
to the soldier who went and did his duty
over the man of military age and fitness
who did not go.—James H. Pou.