Publication: The Muncie Morning Star
Muncie, IN, United States
COUNCIL REQUESTS A SHOWING
BY THE GAS COMPANIES OF
RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES
The resolution Passed, Last
Night, Relieves Council of
Further Consideration of
Increased Rates for a Time,
Ordinance Providing for
Higher Rates, Introduced
One Week Ago, Will Not
Be Acted Upon Until Request
Is Complied With.
Council took decisive action last night on the gas question.
Members present were: Anthony, Budd, Greeley, Hanika, Lafferty, Lewellen, Kehlenbeck, Topp, Wright, and Youse. Gray and Berger were absent.
From 8 until 9:45 o'clock Council was in caucus. The gas matter was the subject discussed.
To all appearances when the members came out of caucus, Council would adjourn without doing anything less innocent than O. K.'ing the week's bills.
Mayor Tuhey had almost exhausted the items on his "order of business" card, when Councilman Greeley moved that the further consideration of the proposed franchises of the Muncie Natural Gas company and the Heat, Light and Power company be deferred until next Monday night. The motion carried without any dissent.
Councilman Budd, of the Sixth ward, arose and read a resolution. In substance, the resolution provides that nothing further be done toward granting the gas companies new franchises until the gas companies have furnished proof, to Council, from their books, that they cannot afford to supply gas at present rates.
The resolution is printed in full herewith.
Council was then ready to adjourn, but A. L. Johnson, a representative of the Muncie Natural Gas company was on his feet.
"I have remained in Muncie for three or four weeks," Mr. Johnson said, "neglecting my business interests elsewhere to carry on negotiations with Council relative to the settlement of the gas question. During that time I have been called into only one caucus of that body, and that was three weeks ago. Of the amendments and subsequent actions of your body I have received no information except through the newspapers. I have attempted to have members of Council familiarize themselves with the gas situation."
"I feel that the gas companies have not been treated as they should have been treated in this matter by the press of Muncie."
"Gentlemen," he continued, "you can gain what information you need to know from citizens who are not members of the gas companies. Some months ago the Muncie Natural Gas company made an attempt to secure more gas, but we do not feel that we are under obligations to buy gas at a higher price than we sell it for. We feel that we have fulfilled our obligations."
"I do not say that Council has mistreated us. I say that you have erred in not carrying to a close the negotiations that were begun between you and the gas companies. I think the gas companies should be represented at the caucuses. Members of Council have led us to believe that something would come out of our negotiations with Council. I do not deny that the Muncie Natural Gas company has made money, but we are not going to purchase more gas and sell it at a loss."
Mr. Johnson paused, and H. C. Zeigler, of the Heat, Light and Power company, asked Mayor Tuhey if he might be heard.
"Mr. Zeigler can be heard," announced the mayor. "It is not late. Come right along, Mr. Zeigler."
"I have always received fair treatment from Council and the mayor," Mr. Zeigler announced in his opening paragraph. "Our company has been spending a whole lot of money to supply gas to the residents of Muncie. I believe the gas question should be settled at once, but I don't want to scold you gentlemen. I am not scolding."
"But when the committee from council made its report on the condition of the gas supply of the Muncie Natural Gas company, they showed the true conditions and merely substantiated the statements made by the gas companies."
"We ask only that you act quickly for or against the proposed ordinances," Mr. Zeigler concluded.
Mr. Hanika, a member of the council from the fifth ward, asked that T. F. Hart, of the American Window Glass company, who was present at the meeting, be heard.
"I have been in the gas business for 20 years or more in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana," Mr. Hart began. "We had gas for a while in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and then we didn't have it because the people wouldn't pay for it. I have been in Muncie 14 years. When I came here, gas was cheap because the pressure was high and pipe was cheap. Muncie is now suffering because of the press reports that are going out."
"Every morning clippings from Associated Press dispatches and elsewhere to the effect that there is a shortage of gas in Muncie, may be seen in the offices of the American Window Glass company in Pittsburg. They have spread to the offices of the great steel company in New York."
"I am in daily touch with the gas situation and I will say to you, gentlemen, that I am of the opinion that your action tonight, indicated that you are not familiar with the gas question. I cannot sell gas at 15 cents and make any money. The people are wasting the gas where 'flat' rates are charged. If meters were introduced, the people will be more economical and there will be more gas for all."
"The Allegheny City (Pa.) Heating Company's report for December showed that during the month, 192,894,300 cubic feet of gas was furnished to 9,801 consumers at a total cost of $48,989.07. This is an average monthly consumption of 19,681 cubic feet and cost of $4.99, or 16.1 cents each day."
"If the gas companies are to increase their supply, they will have to enlarge their mains and make other costly improvements. At present rates, they cannot afford to do that."
Mr. Hanika then asked that Ralph Hemingray be heard, but before his request could be complied with, John A. Keener had gained the recognition of the mayor.
"I want to buy my gas," he said, "for no more than I am compelled to pay for it. I don't understand the gas question. It is a great big problem. Council doesn't understand it. The people don't understand it. Muncie is now at a point where she is going to grow or remain at a standstill. Council has much to do with which course she shall take. Take the gas question into consideration and weigh it carefully and without prejudice.
John Hutchings, a former member of Council, spoke for a few moments. He said that the report is abroad that Muncie is a "dead" town. "When I return home," he went on, "I find that Muncie is as good a town as usual. How much longer can the settlement of the gas question be deferred and Muncie retain her prestige as the best city in the gas belt?"
Messrs. J. M. Maring and Mr. Hemingray followed in brief talks in which they corroborated the statements made by Mr. Hart and others who had addressed Council.
"People can get gas if they are willing to pay for it," remarked Mr. Hemingray in the course of his address.
H. C. Zeigler addressed Council again, for a few moments.
He said that gas at 25 and 30 cents the 1,000 cubic feet, meter measurement, if used economically, is cheaper than gas at present rates, burned as it now is.
"There never again will be a time when gas will be plentiful by flat rates. I think that producer gas will be necessary to tide over cold days."
A.L. Johnson closed the period of speech making by putting this question at Council:
"Is there any business man in Muncie who thinks the Muncie Natural Gas Company has not used good business intelligence in the conduct of its business?" Mr. Johnson thought not.
The resolution as passed places the gas question prominently before the gas companies once more.
There will be no occasion for any attempt to pass the proposed ordinance until the gas companies reply to the resolution.
Council Transacted City's Affairs
Quickly, Monday Night.
Council hurried through its routine business Monday night, with the acceleration of a cold room adding to its speed.
The reading of the minutes were postponed on motion of Councilman Wright. Chairman Gray, of the finance committee, was not present at the meeting and Mr. Anthony read the bills for the week: J. H. Williamson & Co., $2.10; Charles Bestly & Co., $50.75; City electric light payroll, $24; William Dunlap (for fire department) $75; R. Meeks & Son (office desk) $!; C. P. Franklin (fire department) $36.50; Standard Electric Company, $7; Albert Carpenter, $1.40; Muncie Wheel works (fire department), $1.40; Cornelius Callahan Company (fire department), $36; electric light department, $134.91; Physicians' drug store (city health officer), $13.60; Petty Printing company, $5.50; John Redick (hauling city garbage), $37.50; payroll, Beech Grove cemetery, $23.08.
A petition signed by F. C. Ball, representing the Ball Bros., glass company, the Hemingray Glass company, and residents of that part of Muncie, was presented to the council asking that certain streets and alleys be vacated, was read by Councilman Youse of the second ward. The petition is the correction of a similar petition for vacation filed several years ago. The first petition was not properly carried through.
The reason that the petition was presented is that the factories named are built squarely across the streets and alleys indicated. There is said to be no objection among the residents of that part of Muncie to the vacation petitioned for.
On motion of Councilman Wright, the resolution was referred to the streets and alleys committee.
A petition for the vacation of the alley from Jackson to Adams, between Beacon and Ebright was referred to the same committee.
The report of the chief of police for January shows that during that time 90 arrests were made, 76 of which were arrests of males and 14 of females.
The report of the superintendent of Beech Grove for the month of January showed that the expenses had been $336.75 and the income $465.25. A balance of $128.50.