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overseers of the poor, who are responsible for the care of such persons. In some townships the supervisors are overseers of the poor. The paupers are furnished aid in their own homes, or other people are paid for taking care of them. The overseers fix the amount of the poor tax, and receive a small compensation from the poor fund. There are two overseers, elected for a term of two years.
The Assessor.—This township officer is elected for a term of four years. He makes a list of all taxpayers and values, or assesses, all the taxable property in the township. This list, with the valuations, is sent to the county commissioners, who at stated times become a board of appeals, thus giving an opportunity to the taxpayer to have correction made in the valuation of his property. By comparing the lists received, the commissioners are enabled to adjust the valuation throughout the county so that the assessments shall be equable. Voters who own no property are assessed for their profession or occupation. The assessor receives from the county commissioners a statement of the amount of money required from the township as its share of the county expenses. To this he adds, the township expenses, and the whole amount is raised by taxation properly apportioned.
Under the school law making attendance compulsory, the assessor is required to make a careful and correct list of all children between the ages of eight and sixteen years within the district, and return the same to the county commissioners. He reports to the clerk of the orphans' court all births and deaths during the year.
The assessor prepares annually a list of all the persons in the township who are qualified to vote. Assessors are paid $2.00 for each day spent in the duties of the office. The Collector of Taxes.—This officer is elected for a
term of four years, and his duties are indicated by his title. The manner of the collection of taxes varies, however, in different townships. While the constitution restricts special legislation (52), many special laws of an earlier date than the present constitution are still in operation. In general, the duties of the tax collector are to receive the tax duplicates from the officers who make the levies, and to attend at a stated place, at the proper time, to receive taxes and issue receipts therefor. In some townships the collector receives all taxes—State, county, and township, as well as school tax. In some places school directors have their own tax collectors; and the county treasurer in some townships collects the county taxes. The tax collector receives as compensation a percentage of the money handled.
The Auditors.—There are three auditors in office at any time; the term is four years. These officials examine the accounts of the supervisors, overseers of the poor, school board, and all other officers who receive or expend township funds. They publish annually a report showing the receipts and expenditures. Copies of this report are filed with the court and with the township clerk. The salary of auditors is $2.00 for each day spent in the transaction of official business.
The Township Clerk.-In early times, the duty of the town clerk was to keep "ye accurate recorde of what dothe happene within ye metes and boundes of ye towne." Although social affairs would in all probability be much more orderly if a record were kept in every community at present, the office of township clerk has become comparatively unimportant. He now acts as secretary for the supervisors, and keeps a record of any stray animals that are reported to him. This office is in many cases left unfilled.
School Directors.—The school district is the unit of administration in the educational system. It is a body corporate, and may sue and be sued as such. A board of five directs a township,-fourth-class district,-and exercises its corporate powers. The officers of the board are the president, the secretary, and the treasurer. School directors are elected for a term of six years. Women are eligible to the office. School directors receive no salary. It is their duty to provide school facilities for all persons between the ages of six and twenty-one who desire to attend school. This involves levying school taxes, purchasing building sites, erecting and equipping school buildings, and arranging for the funds required in such transactions. The school tax rate cannot exceed 25 mills on the dollar of the assessed valuation of taxable property.
In the ordinary management of the schools the directors employ the teachers and fix the salaries; regulate the length of the term in excess of seven months; adopt and furnish the text-books; purchase other necessary supplies; establish courses of study directing what branches shall be taught besides those required by law; enforce attendance under the compulsory school law; and visit the schools.
The school directors of the whole county meet in convention to elect a county superintendent.
Election Districts and Officers. According to the constitution, all elections must be by ballot, or by such other method as may be prescribed by law: provided, that secrecy in voting be preserved (136). In order that the voting may be done readily, a large number of polling places must be provided, and the election districts must necessarily be small. Townships and wards sometimes form such districts, but may be subdivided into several election districts
by the court of quarter sessions. Election officers are chosen for each voting precinct in the township. The constitution provides that the election board shall consist of a judge of election and two inspectors of election chosen annually by the citizens (146). Each inspector appoints one clerk. (See Chapter XV.) The compensation of election officers is $3.50 for an election, and is paid out of the county treasury. The above account relates primarily to townships of the second class, to which nearly all of the townships in the State belong.
Officers in Townships of the First Class.-In townships of the first class the following officers are provided for by the Township Act of 1899, with terms as fixed by amendments of 1909:
(1) Five township commissioners to hold office for the term of two years. If the population of the township exceeds 5,000, an additional commissioner is to be elected for each 2,000 of population in excess of 5,000. No township commissioner shall receive any salary, or shall be eligible to any other township office.
(2) A township treasurer, for the term of four years. He cannot serve two terms in succession.
(3) A township assessor, for a term of four years.
Large townships are divided into election districts for the convenience of voters. In such cases each district elects an assistant assessor.
The whole number of commissioners shall be apportioned among the election districts of the township in proportion to the population. Residence in the district in which he is voted for is not a requisite of eligibility for a township commissioner.
The office of township supervisor is abolished in townships of the first class.
The county commissioners are charged with the duty of ascertaining, after each decennial census of the United States, what townships, if any, within the county satisfy the conditions set forth as constituting a township of the first class. They must issue a proclamation setting forth such designation, and publish it in two newspapers of the county.
The organization of the township of the first class has come about through the need of closer centralization in localities where the population of the township is 300 or more to the square mile. Decentralization of government as to local affairs is a characteristic feature of American polity, and is one of the greatest safeguards of liberty; but where the population is great, the local government must exercise greater powers secured to it by the State through the action of the Legislature.
What names are given to the smaller political divisions in Pennsylvania ? What are the units of local government in this State? Which of these may be called the elemental unit?
Name the officers of a township of the second class, and state their qualifications, duties, and terms of office.
What is said in the State constitution concerning the organization and power of townships? How many townships in this county ? Name the officers in a township of the first class. What is a township of the second class? When does the term of office of a township constable begin?
What is the difference between a policeman and a constable ? What are the principal duties of a justice of the peace? How is the final jurisdiction of this local court restricted? What other