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Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval a Bill to Authorize the City of Ogden, Utah, to Assume an Increased Indebtedness

April 26, 1890

To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith without my approval the bill (H.R. 7170) "to authorize the city of Ogden, Utah, to assume an increased indebtedness."

The purpose and effect of this bill is to relieve the city of Ogden from the limitation imposed by the act of July 30, 1886, upon all municipal corporations in the Territories as to the indebtedness which they may lawfully contract. The general law fixes the limit of 4 per cent upon the last assessment for taxation; this bill extends the limit as to the city of Ogden to 8 per cent. The purposes for which this legislation is asked are not peculiar or exceptional. They relate to schools, street improvements, and to sewerage, and are common to every prosperous and growing town and city. If the argument by which this measure is supported is adopted, the conclusion should be a repeal or modification of the general law; but in my opinion the limitation imposed by the act of 1886 is wise and wholesome and should not be relaxed.

The report of the governor of Utah for 1889 states the population of Ogden to be 15,000, the valuation for taxation $7,000,000, and the existing indebtedness $100,000. It will be noticed that under the existing limit the city has power to increase its indebtedness $180,000, which would seem to be enough to make a good beginning in the construction of sewers, while the cost of street improvements is usually met in large part by direct assessment upon the property benefited.

It is assumed in the report of the House committee that any city in the States similarly situated "would have the making of the needed improvements within its own power," while the fact is that almost all of our States have either by their constitutions or statutes limited the power of municipal corporations to incur indebtedness, and the limit is generally lower than that fixed by the act regulating this matter in the Territories. A large city debt retards growth and in the end defeats the purpose of those who think by mortgaging the future to attract population and property. I do not doubt that the citizens of Ogden will ultimately realize that the creation of a municipal debt of over half a million dollars by a city of 15,000 population--being $37 per capita--is unwise.

BENJ. HARRISON

APP Note: Title devised by Gerhard Peters

Benjamin Harrison, Message to the House of Representatives Returning Without Approval a Bill to Authorize the City of Ogden, Utah, to Assume an Increased Indebtedness Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/206179

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