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But while I freely admit all this, it yet remains true that a corporation which derives its powers from the State, should pay to the State a just percentage of its earnings as a return for the privileges it enjoys. This should be especially true for the franchises bestowed upon gas companies, street railroads and the like. The question of the municipal ownership of these franchises cannot be raised with propriety until the governments of all municipalities show greater wisdom and virtue than has been recently shown, for instance, in New York city; and the question of laying and assessing the tax for franchises of every kind throughout the State should in my opinion be determined by the State itself. I need not point out to you that in 'foreign communities a very large percentage of the taxes comes from corporations which use the public domain for pipes, tracks and the like. Whether these franchises should be taxed as realty; or whether it would be wiser to provide that, after the gross earnings equal, say, ten per cent. of the actual original cost, then five per cent. of all the gross earnings over and above this shall be paid into the City treasury; or whether some yet different plan should be tried, can only be settled after careful examination of the whole subject. One thing is certain, that the franchises should in some form yield a monied return to the government. To put on a tax here and there as new franchises are asked for may be advisable, but of course is inequitable, to the extent that it handicaps the few thus taxed in their competition with the untaxed corporations; and it may be that now and then some franchise to perform an especially needful and risky service should not be thus handicapped at all. It is far better to have a general scheme of taxation, one that shall apply, for
instance, to railroads entering New York city, to railroads operating within the city, to gas companies, electric companies and the like.
Many commissions have been created by legislative enactment in this and other States in the past, and it has been the almost universal experience that however excellent the reports of such commissions might be, if they were made up of men outside the Legislature, the Legislature paid little or no heed to them. I therefore recommend that you create a Joint Committee of the Senate and Assembly, to investigate the subject in full, and to report to the next Legislature a proper scheme of taxation.
PUBLIC HEALTH-ORDER DIRECTING ABATEMENT OF NUISANCES IN SARATOGA LAKE
STATE OF NEW YORK
Executive Chamber WHEREAS, A petition signed by many residents and property owners in the vicinity of Saratoga Lake was heretofore presented to me, alleging the existence of public nuisances in the vicinity of said lake, caused by the discharge of sewage, domestic waste and manufacturing refuse into said lake, whereby the health and comfort of the people of the community were jeopardized and endangered; and,
WHEREAS, On the roth day of March 1899, I did, as Governor of the State of New York, pursuant to the provisions of chapter 661 of the Laws of 1893, require, order and direct the State Board of Health to examine into the
nuisances alleged to exist by the aforesaid petition and to examine into the questions affecting the security of life and health in the locality mentioned in the aforesaid petition and report to me the results of such examination; and
WHEREAS, The State Board of Health has made the required examination and reported the result thereof to me within the limit of time prescribed for such examination and report, from which it appears:
That Saratoga Lake is about six miles in length, extending in a north-easterly and south-westerly direction, and is surrounded by the townships of Malta, Saratoga Springs, Saratoga and Stillwater. It is about four miles east of Ballston Spa and about the same distance east, and a little south, from the village of Saratoga Springs. Its principal inlet is the Kayaderosseras Creek and its outlet is Fish Creek which flows north-easterly into the Hudson River. Its inlet, Kayaderosseras Creek, is à tortuous stream flowing in an easterly direction through the village of Ballston Spa and the intervening farming section, to the lake. Several smaller streams or brooklets converge and flow into it near the village of Ballston Spa, and the public and private sewers and drainage of said village also empty into it.
That along the banks of said creek and its tributaries are located several large manufacturing plants engaged in the manufacture of paper, sulphite pulp, and in tanning leather, and the effluent and manufacturing refuse from these manufacturing plants are discharged into the Kayaderosseras Creek, so that said creek is practically an open sewer from Ballston Spa to the lake.
That the tannery which discharges its effluent through a small brook or arm known as Gordon Creek, is located within the village of Ballston Spa, and is owned by Messrs. Hall, Haight & Co., a co-partnership employing about three hundred and fifty men. It is engaged in tanning and finishing all kinds of leather and its yearly output in value is one and three-fourths million dollars. The establishment was started in the year 1881 and the process of tanning is briefly described as follows: The hides are put into vats of fresh water and allowed to soak four days for the purpose of removing the salt, then they are put into lime pits where they are handled over every day for six days. From there they go into what is called a depilatory condition. Next they are put into the bark liquor, made from water passed over ground hemlock bark, and from there they go into the finishing shop. The water used in soaking the hides containing a large quantity of salt, the lime-water, and the liquid from the depilatory process, which is lime-water neutralized by lactic acid, and the tanning liquors, are all discharged finally through a box sewer into the creek, and the effluent so discharged is highly colored and can hardly be claimed to be free from pollution.
IV There are also several mills engaged in the manufacture of paper and sulphite pulp located on or over the banks of said stream, and owned by the George West Paper and Bag Co., a domestic corporation incorporated pursuant to the laws of the State and having a capital stock of $500,000. The mill known as the “Glen Mill” is engaged in the manufacture of sulphite pulp. The amount manufactured is more than a hundred tons per week. The process is briefly described as follows: From a hundred and fifty to two hundred cords of wood are ground up each week and the ship or shred is put into large digestors, lined with lead, where it is treated with hot sulphurous acid and other chemicals, which subdue the resin and vegetable nature of the wood and leave the fibre free, which is removed and further treated with chloride of lime and other chemicals. About three hundred pounds of sulphur is used for the manufacture of a ton of the pulp. Large quantities of chloride of lime and other chemicals are also used and the effluent from the mill is ultimately discharged into the Kayaderosseras Creek.
V That nearly all the water of said creek is carried through one or all of these mills and after acting as a solvent or agent, in chemical processes, finds its way back into the stream, carrying in solution acids, alkalies, organic and inorganic matter, in such large quantities that a decidedly acid reaction can be detected in the waters of said creek, from three to four miles down the stream. These acids and alkalies coming in contact with the large quantities of sewage discharged into this stream hasten chemical action and fermentation, thereby generating gases and giving off odors which are offensive, often producing nausea and affecting the comforts, if not the health of those obliged to inhale them.