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counts affecting the state of the Treasury is, that by possibility it might place the Treasurer within the influence of core ruption, should a corruptible man be ever elected to that of. fice. An officer, debtor of the government, may apply to him to have his accounts allowed at a false amount, or for services never rendered, on condition that the excess be divided with the Treasurer. If it be said that others also may be exposed to corrupt influences, it may be urged, that the facilities for corrupt appliances are peculiar, at the juncture of paying, as well as settleing an account. The possibility of corruption should not exist, when it may be prevented.
A brief reference to the Treasurer's books, will convince any one that the desired accountability has not been secured, and that the defects in the law appertaining to this branch of the public interest have been of long standing. It will be found, on an examination of those books, that sums of money, due the state have been outstanding for years, in the hands of officers under bonds to render their accounts annually. The J0th Section, Chap. VIII of R. S., was enacted, for the purpose of fixing the responsibility on the Treasurer, for such delinquences, should he fail to commence suits, as provided by the Statute. But these delinquencies commenced during the incumbency of a Treasurer, now dead or out of office, and it might be difficult to determine where the liabilities ought to fall, in case of the insolvency of the original debtor and his bail. The statutes in force previous to the revision, required of the Treasurer to open an account between the state and each State's Attorney, in which the Attorney should be charged with all bonds forfeited, fines, &c. From an examination of the Treasurer's books, it does not appear that the semblance of an account has been opened with State's Attorneys, with the exception of the period elapsing from 1833 to 1836, during which time very imperfect accounts were commenced with the attorneys of several of the Counties. To secure a just accounting for the public dues, the law has made it necessary that various duties of several different officers should concur, and the failure of either of these may defeat the desired object. Thus if a State's Attorney fail to render his account, and the County Clerk to make his return of state causes, the Treasurer cannot charge the attorney in account. Again, if the County Clerk have made his return, and the Treasurer neglect to charge the attorney in account, or to commence suit when he is delinquent, and the Treasurer, by his laches, has become responsible for the amount of the attorney's delinquencies, still, unless some one, authorized by law, shall compel the Treasurer to account and pay, the public funds are lost. Our system of finance seems to be greatly deficient, as a whole, in simplicity; and the various parts are not adapted to each other. Money is liberally scattered from the Treasury, but no public document shows to the people, that it has been all applied, to the various objects for which it was appropriated. The scattered fragments have not been collected to a focus, where the eye of the Legislature could contemplate the whole at one view. The Legislature cannot be expected to pass remedial statutes, for the correction of abuses, on their first appearance, but through the instrumentality of some public document, which shall annually call their attention to the subject of those abuses. The best systems of finance are liable to abuse, and in process of time will be abused. We have no officer whose appropriate duty it is to supervise the entire finances of the government, nor have we any annual report, showing their sources and disbursements.
It is believed, that the adoption of the practice of paying the contingent expenses of our courts of justice in money, and the consequent dispensing with court orders, would be an improvement of our system. These expenses accrue at stated periods, and the Treasurer could, with less difficulty, provide funds, to be applied by the county clerks, under the direction of the judges, in discharge of claims accruing for services attendant on the court, than to pay orders drawn for the payment of those services, as usually presented at the Treasury.
Those orders amount to about 4500 dollars annually, and the expense of drawing them, and of returning the abstracts to the Treasurer and Secretary of State, required by the statute, will somewhat exceed one thousand dollars. The design of the abstract is to form a check on the orders. The statute, requires the county clerks, to transmit the abstract to the Treasurer, “ immediately after the session of either of the courts," and provides that no orders shall be paid by the Treasurer, until such abstract shall be lodged in
his office. The purpose of this provision was to prevent the payment of false or forged orders. Still, in past times those abstracts have had no such effect. The practice of the clerks is to draw orders during vacation, as well as during the session of the courts, and such are not inserted in an abstract till they may have been paid at the Treasury, for tho’the statute enjoins the Treasurer to pay no order till the abstract is lodged in his office, still, in practice, it is a dead letter. It is many times difficult, in the press of business, to compare the order with the abstract. They are for the most part presented at the Treasury for payment during the session of the Legislature ; and it would require more time to compare them, with the ab. stract, than the Treasurer can well devote to the subject. The statute requires an abstract for each session of all the courts at which orders are drawn. It may be said that the law can be executed ; but it may be replied that it has not been. In an examination of papers in the Treasurer's office, in March last, in furtherance of the present undertaking, there were discovered receipts, for monies advanced to Judges of the supreme court, to the amount of $146,00, which had been enveloped in abstracts returned to the Treasury office, and never charged to any account on the Treasurer's books, These abstracts had been in the office three to four years, and manifestly had never been opened. As checks against fraudulent orders they answer no valuable purpose. The abstract required by the statute to be returned to the Secretary of State, is probably of as little use as that furnished the Treasurer, though it will furnish materials, in the absence of better, to charge the amount of jury and court fees received and paid by the clerk.
The late Secretary of State, informed the writer that he had known of but one application, in a period of five years, to examine the abstracts deposited in the Secretary's office. But in case it should become necessary to examine any items of charge allowed, this may be done with less difficulty, by applying to the office of the county clerk, who is required by statute “ to preserve and keep on file all accounts, and other vouchers, for, which such orders were drawn." It is difficult to perceive any sufficient cause for continuing the expense of abstracts, or of lumbering the Secretary's office with bundles of papers, destined never to be of use, except perhaps to amuse the curiosity of some future antiquarian.
If it be desirable, that the public funds be accumulated in one depository, and that the avenues to those deposites be as few as practicable, it is not less important, that the public securities, and the evidence of public property, be guarded with a similar vigilance. The statute requires, that the bonds of recognizance, given by county clerks, should be deposited with the Treasurer of the State. In the case of State's attorneys, the bond is required to be taken before a Judge of the county court, but the law has not directed, what department shall have the custody of the security.
On an examination of the Treasurer's office in March last, not one third of the clerks' bonds, required by law to be deposited in the Treasurer's office, and of State's attorneys' bonds, not one in twelve could be found. The examination extended back to 1833. The remainder of these bonds or securities, if ever found, must be looked for in the offices of the various county clerks, who are thus made the depositaries of the evidence and the securities, which are to charge them in a suit in behalf of the state.
If the people of this state have occasion to congratulate themselves, that no serious loss of the public funds has been experienced, it is to be attributed rather to the moral integrity and high sense of honor, inherent in our public functionaries, than to the wisdom and efficiency of our laws.
The length of this report will serve as an apology for not adverting to other less apparent defects in our system. It has been the purpose of the undersigned to propose a system of accounting, which shall be be at once simple, direct and efficient. It is not expected to be free of defects ; still, as the proposed system provides, that the subject shall be annually brought before the Legislature in a report, wherein will be noticed any modification, which experience may suggest, it is hoped, that, it may conduct us to the completion of a system, which shall secure a “ thorough accountability, by every officer or citizen, being in the receipt of money belonging, in any wise, to the state of Vermont.” The system proposed is exhibited in the accompanying bill. All which is respectfully submitted by
Auditor of Accounts.
To the General Assembly of the State of Vermont now sitling : . Auditor's Office, Montpelier, ?
October 12, 1842. Š In pursuance and obedience to a resolution of the Hon. the Senate and House of Representatives, passed the 10th day of November, 1841, the Auditor of Accounts has the honor to submit to the General Assembly the following, as approximating the nearest to a satisfactory report of the finances of the State, which, under the existing laws and their imperfect execution, it has been in his power to present.
The defects in the existing laws, and their very imperfect, and in some cases impossible execution, have been alluded to in another report of the Auditor to the General Assembly.
The State of Vermont, on the 1st day of October, 1842, was indebted to sundry accounts to the amount of
$208,330 9 As follows, viz: To the School Fund,
$151,417 08 To various towns for surplus revenue,
14,424 39 To Bank of Burlington,
2,061 32 To J. R. Langdon,
5,045 00 To A. Willard,
3,094 98 To old Bank of Montpelier,
376 20 To the Safety Fund,
21,860 64 To Safety Fund Banks, as interest, 6,201 48 To Trustees of Insane Hospital, 4,113 33 $208,594 47
CAPITAL OF THE STATE. The capital of the State is as follows, viz: Balance due for State taxes, $44,921 26 Amount in the Treasury,
9,009 03 $51,930 29 Balance of debt against the State,
$156,664 13 It should be remembered, that $151,417 08 of this debt iş due to the school fund, and $14,424 39 to the U. Ştates de