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It will be a matter for some regret if, in the period now remaining before the date of the poll, the discussion on the proposal for the amalgamation of St Kilda with the city is not lifted on to a higher plane than that upon which it has been conducted up to the present.
The imputation of motives and the indulgence in sneers at officials may serve a very useful purpose on the platform, but it would be a poor compliment to the intelligence of the electors of St. Kilda to suppose that their judgement on the issue regarding which they will record their vote next week will be swayed by the use of oratorical tricks of this description.
The allegation that they will be mulcted in additional rating if their verdict is in favour of amalgamation with the city is, however, one which, if it cannot be fairly met, may be expected to make a certain impression upon a number of them.
It is, of course, possible to make a careful selection of cases in which, upon the present basis of rating, the rates payable in St Kilda are less than those that would be paid on the same properties in the City of Dunedin. And those who are opposed to amalgamation may be relied upon to make the most of these picked examples.
But, if it be granted - as it will be - that the figures quoted are correct, and if it be assumed, though it is a large assumption, that the tendency is not towards a reduction of the rates in the city and not towards an increase in the rating in St. Kilda, it may be suggested that the electors in St Kilda have still to ask themselves a question before they allow their votes to be determined by the result of an appeal to their pockets.
That question is whether the value they obtain for their contribution in rates towards the maintenance of the Borough of St Kilda is equal to the value that is received by the ratepayers of the city or to that which they would themselves obtain if their borough became a part of the City of Dunedin.
To that question there should be a ready answer. If, however, it still leaves a doubt in their minds concerning the direction in which self-interest lies, there is another point, and one of great importance, to be considered by them. This is whether they are content that their suburb should continue to be a mere appendage of the city, dependent on the city for most of the amenities of life but enjoying no effective voice in the control of the civic institutions.
The boast has been made to the electors that they have all the benefit of the tramway, lighting, and water supply systems which are supplied by the city without having any liability in connection with the undertakings.
It is a curious boast, albeit one that should suggest to the electors of St Kilda that the prospect of amalgamation with the city should be by no means disturbing to any of them.
But they may reasonably argue that it would be to their advantage if they obtained a share of the control over these undertakings - each one of them a concern from which the Corporation may look for handsome returns This argument is strengthened by the fact that by nature St Kilda is part of Dunedin and that it is only by an artificial and unreal device that it possesses a separate municipal existence.
The arrangement under which the administration of the city and suburban area was split up among several distinct bodies was originally dictated by considerations of convenience, but there is no longer any justification for its continuance, and the present movement in St. Kilda for amalgamation with the city is in sympathy with the trend of feeling that is everywhere manifesting itself.
- ODT, 2.12.1912.