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The University of North Carolina news letter. online resource (None) 1914-1944, June 23, 1926, Image 1

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E- f The news in this publi cation is released for the press on receipt. THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA NEWS LETTER Published Weekly by the University of North Caro lina for the University Ex tension Division. JUNE 23, 1926 CHAPEL HILL, N C. THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS VOL. XII, NO. 32 diforia! Boardi RJ. C. Branson, S. H. Hobbs, Jr., L. R. Wilson, E. W. Knight, D. D. Carroll, J. B. Bullitt. H. W. Odum. Entered as second-class matter November 14. 1914. at the PoatofTice at Chapel Hill. N. C.. under the act of August 24, 1918 COUNTY GOVERNMENT iN N. C. II. A TYPICAL COUNTY (The following is the second of a series of {hree articles on county government by Paul W. Wager, recent- )y published by Southern Agriculturist. Mr. Wager is a research assistant, Insti tute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina. The first article appeared last week. The third will appear next week.) Blank County is a typical North Caro lina county. It contains almost exactly one per cent of the state’s area and slightly more than one per cent of the population. Tnere are 100 counties in the state. It is a good agricultural county and has two brisk manufactur ing towns. The total value of all property listed for taxes in 1924 was $27,169,307. This probably represents about two-thirds of the county’s wealth. On the whole, farm land is assessed more nearly at its true value than town property. This is largely because there has been no reassessment since 1921 and town values have enhanced more than farm values. Even farm land is not assessed at any uniform percentage of its true value. Careless methods of assessing and of keeping the tax records also result in the loss of much property from the tax books. For instance there were 2,734 town lots listed for taxation in 1922, 2,471 in 1923, and 2,823 in 1924. The county-wide tax rate for the past four years has fluctuated from $1.06 to $1.22 per $100 of taxables. In addition, there are a few special township levies for roads and schools. The -following table shows the levy and amount raised for each purpose for the years 1921 to 1924 inclusive. At the time this study was made the 1926 figures were not available. constant borrowing and the paying of interest. For instance, at the close of the school year the sheriff still owed the school fund $73,679. The school board bad to borrow the money or mbke the teachers wait several months for their pay. Directly and indirectly, this looseness in collecting taxes is costing the taxpayers several thousand dollars a year. The people elect a treasurer as cus todian of county funds. The last treas urer’s books were so tangled that it cost hundreds of dollars to get them audited. The audit revealed that he owed the county about $22,000, lie was totaly incompetent, failed to keep his own money separate from county money, and it is quite possible that he was the innocent victim of fraud on the part of another. The treasurer pre ceding him also defaulted, and there is no doubt about his guilt. He still owes the county $18,000. These instances illustrate the failure of popular election to secure competent and trustworthy officials. While dishonesty is the ex ception rather than the rule, incompe tence is almost universal. There is very little bookkeeping done in connection with the expenditure of county funds. There is no ledger or voucher record. In fact, there is no record of expenditures at all except the voucher stubs and a list in the Minute Docket of claims audited by the com missioners. Furthermore, these records are only of those expenditures made from the general fund or the bridge fund. The highway board has its own secretary and treasurer and pays its own bills. The same is true of the school board. Interest on bonds is paid directly by the treasurer. The clerk of superior court pays witness fees. The register of deeds pays out poor LOCAL GOVERNMENT The case, indeed, for a strong system of local government in any State is clear almost beyond the needs of discussion. We cannot realize the full benefit of democratic govern ment, unless we begin by the ad mission that all problems are not cen tral problems, and that the results of problems not central in their incidence require decision at the place, and by the persons, where and by whom the incident is most deeply felt.—Harold J. Laski. County welfare 994 Pension board 14 Jury tickets 2,654 Interest on bonds 19,275 Roads and bridges 18,896 Auditing books 1,869 Veterinarian inspection 1,912 Miscellaneous 9,031 Total $94,841 It is impossible to give the parallel expenditures from the school fund for the fiscal years were different. The school expenditures from July 1, 1923, to June 30, 1924, were as follows: County superintendent $ 3,000 County board ; 348 Teachers’ salaries 94,419 Teacher training 830 Welfare officer 862 office. In the vast majority of the cases the age reported is the guess of of the clerk. Some of the ages are as given by the offenders. This inexact ness in reporting ages will tend to make the median age higher than it really is for offenses showing a low median age, and at the same time it will tend to make the median age lower than it really is for offenses showing a high median age. Assuming that the judg ment of the clerk of court will be as One wonders if it is by chance that accurate for those charged with one carrying a concealed weapon, robbery, type of offense as it is for those charged with any other, the accompanying table may be considered quite reliable and authoritative. Number of Cases A total of 14,929 indictments were re ported as disposed of by the Superior Courts of North Carolina during the fiscal year indicated above. The age was reported in only 13,464 of those cases. The median age of those re ported was 28.34 years. In othgr words, half of the indictments in North Carolina Superior Courts during that year were 28 years and 4 months of age or older. L'his may come as a surprise ^because we have heard so mucn about the extreme youtnfulness of modern criminals. However, it must be remembered that they were several months younger'than this when appre- ; bended, if the usual rate of judicial pro- Transportation of pupils cedure be taken into ^consideration Furthermore, the lower courts handle a majority of first offenses, and would no doubt show a much lower median age for their offenders. Fuel and janitors 3,932 School supplies 324 Insurance 1,073 Repairs 1,657 New buildings and sites 33,197 Furniture and apparatus 4,874 Libraries 200 Interest 2,112 Miscellaneous 9,459 V 1921 1922 1923 1924 Purpose Levy Amount Levy Amount Levy Amount Levy Amount County Schools $0.46 $123,078 $0.44 $119,841 $0.66 $166,911 $0.63 $164,466 Special Schools' 6,053 County Roads _ -40 107,089 Township Road Debt^ 3,796 Gen. County Purposes^ .15 40,399 Bonds and Interest 10 26,772 .40 6,867 106,966 . 3,730 39,987 18,644 5 8,660 13,432 127,237 .39 111,339 4,146 4,117 42,666 .10 29,739 19,192 .08 21,727 22 $368,801 $1.10 $334,820 XotaP $1-10 $306,186 $1.06 $294,926 $1. ■'These special schools do not include the schools systems of the three largest towns * “The township road indebtedness has now been assumed by the county so that this tax will no longer have to be borne by particular townships. “A 16 cents levy for general county purposes is inadequate. A deficit of 11.106,- 000 had to be funded in 1924. 'Notice how the levy is reduced in election (even) years. The present bonded indebtedness is $1,369,000, or almost exactly 6 per cent of the taxable wealth of the county. These bonds include issues for the following purposes: County home $ 6,000 Courthouse and jail; 100,000 Good roads 376,000 Bridges fOO.OOO Township road debts 368,000 Funding 12Q.000 Total $1,368,000 To show for this indebtedness the county has a large number of good steel bridges, 400 miles of sand-clay and gravel roads and a splendid courthouse. The jail is a fairly good one, but the county home is entirely inadequate. It is a brick building but is too small and is dark and gloomy. There is the greatest laxity and waste in the collection of taxes. The sheriff and his deputy act as tax col lectors. Although the law requires that he shall make a complete settlement of one year’s taxes before he receives the tax books for another year, the sheriff of this ‘county was serving his second term and had never had a settlement. In March, 1926, he had still failed to collect 2 per cent of 1922 taxes, 4 per cent of 1923 taxes and 38 per cent of the 1924 taxes. In other words, uncollected taxes amounted to $147,868. Since taxes do not become delinquent until May 1, a large volume of 1924 taxes would still be collected; but most of the 1922 and 1923 taxes would be de clared insolvent. Most of them would not have been insolvent if collected on time. This dilatoriness in collecting taxes means the loss of considerable revenue, and also deprives the county of the use of tax money and necessitates relief after the dependent has been placed on the pauper list. He has the welfare officer review the list monthly so as not to make the mistake some counties have made of continuing pay ments after the beneficiary was dead. There is no attempt at classification of Youth and Housebreahing The accompanying table shows that housebreaking is the type of offense indulged in by the most youthful group of offenders. Approximately 40 per^ cent of those charged with housebreak' Qf I ing were white, and the median age of the whites is somewhat lower than that of the negroes, although the tabu lation does not show how much lower. Next in order comes burglary and then larceny and receiving, all of which are crimes against property and crimes which occur more frequently in the city than in the country. At the same time, the three types of offenses show ing the highest median age are those more often committed by country peo ple. It is interesting to notice the order of median ages for the various offenses. and homicide follow one another in one, two, three order; or that prostitution, seduction, and rape likewise follow in close order. (See Table.) Queer, too, that abduction, adultery, and bigamy follow in close order. These are per haps coincidences, but the main sequence is significant at any rate. ’ Prohibition It is of interest to note that those apprehended for violation of the pro hibition law are, on the average, nearly three years older than those apprehended for other offenses. Although this is true for the state as a whole, it is not true for some counties—those counties in which violation of this law is most fashionable; among the chief of which is Mecklenburg. Another interesting fact not indicated in the table is that, in general, those crimes which are on the increase show a lowering of the median age and vice’ versa. Among those crimes on the in crease are burglary, robbery, house breaking, larceny, and driving while drunk, all of which show a lowering of the median age from 1924 to 1926. It is on those crimes which show either a numerical increase or a lowering of the median age in those committing them, that those interested in reducing crime should especially concentrate their attention. It is in indicating these trends in crime that such facta as are given in the accompanying table have their practical value. —F. S. Wilder. Total $160,870 A highway commission was estab lished in April, 1919. By the end 1924 this board had raised and spent $1,327,616. Of this $623,026 represented bond issues, $213,762 represented short- time loans, and $580,818 had been raised from taxation or from miscellaneous sources. Nearly 400 miles of road had The following table lists the main types of offenses dealt with by the been improved, several good bridges , Superior Courts of North Carolina in the order of the median ages of those built, and the county had acquired a charged with the offense during the year ending June 30, 1926. In a parallel MEDIAN AGES OF OFFENDERS IN NORTH CAROLINA large outfit of road machinery. The road board is a bi-partisan board, has had a good business man for chairman, employed a capable road superintendent and has s'erved the county faithfully. There has been a minimum of ‘politics’ in the highway work and that largely explains the splendid results. All of the officers of the county are paid salaries, except the deputy sheriff and the jailer. The sheriff receives $6,000. The register of deeds $3,000,' and the clerk of • court $4,000. The sheriff also retains his fees. The.fees in the register of deed's office amounted in 1924 to $4,347 and in the clerk of court’s office to $3,784. Each official pays his own clercial assistants. It ! will be noticed that these two offices ' are practically self-supporting. The $1,200 a year, the welfare officer $1,‘600, the superinten- column is the median age for the preceding court year. The information was obtained from the reports of the clerks of the courts to the office of the At torney General. Out of 14,929 cases reported in 1924-5, 13,464 ages were given, and in the preceding year ages were reported in 12,899 of the 14,484 cases. F. S. Wilder Institute for Research in Social Science, University of North Carolina Charge disbursements. There are no control accounts. There is no accounting worthy , t"aso7er receives of the name. It is a loose, careless system which insures waste and invites | |,eith ’$3,600, the county corruption. nurse, $1,800, and the superintendent of Each officer buys his own supplies, j ^g^QQQ ^he commissioners re- The jailer buys supplies for the jail, the janitor for the courthouse, the superintendeut of the county home for that institution, and the superintendent of highways buys road and bridge ma terial. Usually, the bills have the o.k. of some other official before being pre sented to the commissioners for their approval. All paid vouchers eventually come back to the county and are filed in the register’s office, but without any control accounts there is no way of knowing where the county stands at a particular time, and it is difficult to locate an error. The disbursements of the general fund (which in this county includes bridge repairs and highway mainte nance) were as follows for the years 1923-1924: (Fiscal year begins Dec. 1.) Jail and and jail fees $ 2,916 Courthouse expense 3,017 Election expense 1,759 Court and court costs 4,836 County home '• 3,048 County officers 12,492 Outside poor 2,828 Tax refunds 619 Burial Confederate veterans 360 Capturing stills '^60 Listing property 2,616 Board of hea|th 4,782 Conveying lunatics 376 ceive a small per diem. There is much to be commended in this county, the highway administration, the public health service, the welfare work, the elimination of the fee sys tem, and a rather exceptionally aggres sive board of commissioners. The great est weakness is the manner in which taxes are levied and collected and in the lack of proper accounting. It may be reported, however, that within another year the county is to abolish the treas- urership as an elective office, appoint a combined bookkeeper and treasurer, and install a thorough system of account ing. This official will also serve as tax supervisor, and efforts will be made to correct the abuses in that field. The county ought to go a step further and take tax-collecting out of the sheriff’s office. Rape- Crime against Nature.. Cases re- Median Cases re- Median Dortins: age porting age ages 1924-6 1924-6 ages 1923-4 1923-4 610 23.1 478 23.4 43 23.7 62 23.4 1,848 24.6 1,619 24.6 85 25.2 107 24.0 31 26.2 24 26.8 139 26.8 121 27.9 263 25.6 158 26.7 66 25.8 69 26.9 . 23 26.1 27 26.9 . 291 26.3 198 26.5 78 26.8 47 24.5 . 368 27.2 480 26.8 38 27.2 16 , 705 27.3 726 27.6 87 27.3 68 • 27.4 . 295 28.2 $41 30.3 . 203 28.3 202 28.3 All Offenses 13,464 12,899 29.23 Slander Assult to Rape.. CRIME AND AGE GROUPS Elsewhere in'this issue is a table giv ing the median age of the offenders charged with the more common types of crime in the Superior Courts of North Carolina for the year ending June 30, 1926. The information was tabulated from the reports of the clerk of the court in each of the hundred counties of the state to the Attorney-General’s Nuisance.. 2Assault(and Battery).. ^False Pretense . Doing Business without License . ■‘Failure to List, etc 29 28.7 21 30.6 70 28.7 44 26,3 26 28.8 43 31.6 270 28.8 162 27.9 1,107 29.1 1,071 30.7 117 29.3 69 30.0 87 - 29.3 87 29.3 97 29.4 102 29.7 23 29.6 15 67 29.6 74 33.4 62 29.7 67 30,6 117 30.4 163 27.8 3,472 30.5 3,270 31.8 . 609 30.6 741 29.2 26 30.9 39 31.2 , 242 31.1 219 31.7 64 31.3 42 33.0 . 266 31.3 255 33.7 . 195 31.7 170 33.2 61 31.7 16 . 266 33.4 264 36.8 . 68 36.6 83 39.7 ....101 37.6 111 37.9 ' Includes drunkenness. 2 Includes assault on female, but not assault to rape. 3 Includes giving worthless check but not forgery. ' Includes failure to list property, failure to pay taxes or other bills, failure to work roads, failure to dip cattle, and failure tojstop at railroad crossing.

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