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Research Laboratory, putting together several hundred acres, and several miles long from one end to the other; the additions to the Department of Agriculture, a couple of blocks; the addition to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a block; the heating plant at Twelfth and C Streets SW., a block, and two blocks on the north side of Maryland Avenue from Third to Sixth Street.
All of that property has been taken. I do not say that to criticize Congress or to criticize anybody. The taking was proper and necessary for the uses of the Federal Government, but they have involved a perfectly tremendous diminution of the area of land available to the District of Columbia for taxation; and that process is likely to continue.
They plan to take all the land east from the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, as far as the Anacostia River, two blocks on either side of East Capitol Street..
Mr. Bates. Pardon my interjection, but who intends to take that and where can we get information about it? I just gave a note to my secretary here to find that fact out.
Mr. KING. That fact is mentioned, and it is so intended, in Senator O'Mahoney's report in the last session of Congress. Just where the writer of that report got it, I am not sure. My impression is that it has been approved by the Planning Commission, but I cannot be entirely certain of that; I have not verified that; and there are other areas that it is intended to take: The block opposite the old State, War, and Navy Building, to the west of Lafayette Square, the Government already owns a considerable part of that, and I understand from the same source that it is planned to take the whole of that block.
Contemporaneously with that process of great diminution in the area available to the Federal Government–the area available to the people of the District of Columbia for taxation purposes, I should say-there has been a diminution in the Federal contribution.
From 1879, 3 years before I was born, until 1921, a period of 42 years, the Federal contribution was 50 percent. Everybody supposed it was as fixed as anything could be, although the area available for taxation was immensely larger then than it is now.
Nor can that argument be answered by saying—which is true—that at that time the part of the District of Columbia from Florida Avenue and east of the Anacostia River was rural and did not bring in so much taxes as it does now, and most of it has been built over. That is true. But that area, when becoming urbanized, involved much greater cost to the District of Columbia for paving, for schools, for police and fire protection, and all the other urban charges, extension of sewers and water supply, and now there are not any more regions within the boundary of the District of Columbia which we are speaking of which are rural and may be subject to future urbanization.
The District is wholly urbanized now and the urbanization has passed out into Maryland and Virginia. The area available for taxation at the present time is, according to the latest figures, some 49 percent. It is as unfair, I submit, to the people of the District to require the residential and retail areas to bear 89 percent of the cost of running the District government—the Federal Government now paying no more than 11 percent—as it would be to—take an example of a city where I have visited and I am quite well acquainted, Rochester, N. Y.to expect the retail and residential areas of Rochester to bear 89 percent of the cost of running the city and rule out from taxation itself the enormous factories of the Eastman Kodak Co. or the StrombergCarlson Telephone Manufacturing Co. and the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., and the other factories that make Rochester the great city that it is, because the Government departments are to Washington just what the Bausch & Lomb and Stromberg-Carlson and Eastman Kodak and the other companies are to Rochester.
Mr. BATES. Let me ask a question right there.
Mr. BATES. Just the same, if the relation of the District government or the Federal Government is the same to the District of Columbia that these industries are to the city of Rochester, would you say that the city of Rochester would be better off without those industries or with many of them, or would the District be better off without many of these buildings that the Federal Government has constructed here?
Mr. King. Of course not. Rochester would go bankrupt if all the factories were to move away, and Washington would be bankrupt if the Federal Government moved away.
Mr. BATEs. Then the question comes up as to where the line should be drawn. Your complaint is that the Federal Government has acquired property within the District. Would you say that in those properties, for the most part, or would you not say, that these large buildings in which are employed many thousands of employees in which are not a bimonthly pay roll of millions of dollars' worth of purchasing power-all of which is the foundation for the economic life of the community-would you say that the Federal Government made a mistake and perhaps, shall we say, discriminated against the District in locating any of these buildings? Do you criticize the Government for taking these lands!
Mr. King. No; I said a few moment ago and I repeat and emphasize—that these takings were necessary.
Mr. BATES. Were they detrimental to the District ?
Mr. King. No; I do not say they were detrimental but I say with them the Government should bear a larger cost of the expenses of the District of Columbia than it does now.
In the average city of moderate size, the only Federal property in it is a corner lot with a post office on it. There are some where there are more, that is true, but that may be true of the average city, and the taxes which the city would otherwise receive if that post office had not been built are negligible.
Mr. BATES. Well, you are very familiar with one city, particularly, according to your testimony this morning, the city of Cambridge, Mass.
Mr. King. Except that it was about 40 years ago.
Mr. BATES. Its great institutions, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and many similar institutions, educational, civil, and charitable. The total assessed value is about onethird in those areas as to the total value of the city itself. But they have not a great pay roll that they have flowing out of those institutions as from the Federal offices in this District. So, I think there is something in between those two questions that has to be considered in the over-all question as to whether or not the District is being penalized by the acquiring of this property, the purchasing of the buildings and putting all those employees in there, developing as it does, the pay roll which is the economic life of this community. There is not any question in your mind about that?
Mr. King. There is no doubt but what it is the economic life of the community.
Mr. BATES. So, we have to weigh those factors along with the others as to what are the detrimental features of the acquisition of those properties at the same time, do we not?
Mr. KING. Yes, sir.
Senator Caix. You are moving in the direction of your determination of what the Federal Government's contribution might more fairly be.
Mr. King. I have some suggestions on that point.
Senator Cain. You are saving now that the $8,000,000 presently provided by the Federal Government is 11 percent of the total budget?
Mr. KING. It is much less than that with respect to the budget that has been proposed by the Commissioners.
Senator Cain. Yes; that is right. But you are moving in the direction of your own firm suggestions as they pertain to the problem, to Mr. Bates, and Senator McGrath, and myself.
Mr. King. I have some suggestions that I will come to in a moment. All I want to say further, in answer to Mr. Bates' remarks, is that the pay roll of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia is the economic life of the District. There is no question about that. But so is the pay roll of the Eastman Kodak and these other great companies in Rochester, the economic life of Rochester, and either city would die and the city government go bankrupt if those industries were to move away.
Senator Cain. The only difference being in your factual opinion that in Rochester, Eastman Kodak Co, not only has a pay roll but it provides taxes on its property to the city in which it has its buildings.
Mr. King. It does, sir.
Now, as to constructire suggestions in this matter, in the last Congress there was a very able report presented by Senator O'Mahoney, of which I have a copy in my file, and which you gentlemen no doubt are familiar with.
Senator CAIN. YesI think we are.
Mr. King. And I concur in nearly everything that was said in that report.
I think, however, the formula which is there proposed, while it is more generous than the present arrangement, and also has the advantage of being a sliding scale which presumably will go up as the need for greater contribution goes up, I think that formula is not altogether fair to the citizens of the District of Columbia in certain respects.
In the first place, it is based on area of land owned. Now, the services which a municipal government furnishes have very little relation to the area of land. I think it would be fairer if instead of being based on the area of land it would be based on the costs or value of the land and buildings because the services are furnished rather to the buildings, to the businesses carried on in those buildings, and to the people working in and who occupy those buildings. Mere land does not need or use, to any very great degree, water supply, sewerage, police or fire protection, the principal services of the District of Columbia or any other municipality which is being furnished.
Therefore, I would go at a ratio in a little different way from that which this report does. I would take and put on one side in one basket, making up the ratio, the value of the land and improvements owned and occupied by the Federal Government for its purposes, excluding the parks and the streets; then on the other side, sir, I would put the land and buildings, the value of the land and buildings, owned and occupied by private citizens and subject to taxation, and also the land and improvements owned and occupied by the District of Columbia for its municipal purposes. That still leaves out another class, which is about 5 percent here in the District of Columbia, namely, the land owned and occupied by private persons or corporations, but not subject to taxation, such as churches, private and parochial schools, charitable institutions, hospitals, and the embassies and legations, and colleges and universities.
The private schools, the parochial schools, the hospitals, and charitable institutions inure to the benefit of the citizens of the District and I think they ought to go on the side of schools along with the privately owned taxable property in that part of the ratio.
The embassies, on the other hand, are exempt from taxation, as a result of international law, and the Federal Government gets a quid pro quo for that exemption simply by having our embassies in foreign capitals exempt from taxation there. That is a Federal and not a local interest, and the value of the land and buildings of the embassies, which is quite considerable, I think, ought to go on the Federal side of the scale.
The only thing left are the large universities here in the city, Georgetown, George Washington, Catholic University, Gallaudet College for the deaf and dumb, which do not draw their students, any of them, purely. from local sources, but are all national institutions. For that reason, I think, they ought to go on the Federal side of the scale, but they are not, in comparison with the whole sum, very large in number, and I would not insist on it being in that particular. If a ratio were made up according to that basis, as nearly as I can figure, it would come out with the Federal Government paying about 31 percent of the cost of the District of Columbia, and the citizens paying about 69 percent.
That would be a smaller Federal contribution than was paid by the United States Government for over 40 years, from 1879 to 1921, and for some 18 or 19 years afterward until a long in the 1930's, and I think that would be fair and just. However, the O'Mahoney formula is so much more generous to the District government than the present $8,000,000 lump sum, that my association could not make complaint if that were adopted.
That closes, sir, what I have to say on this general topic of the Federal contribution.
Senator Cain. We appreciate those remarks very much. Mr. King. Have you anything to ask me about that before I say, without any preparation but simply from extemporaneous thinking, what little I can say in answer to Mr. Bates' inquiry about the efliciency of the District of Columbia government.
Senator Cain. In the first place, we have a right to assume that you speak not only for yourself but as chairman of the committee of the Georgetown Citizens' Association.
Mr. King. And following, sir, a resolution of the association at its meeting where I gave them a brief summary of what I proposed to say.
Senator Cain. With reference to my point of view, what you have said in defense of your proposal about the Federal Government's contribution, I would have no questions on that at all. That is a matter for study that we are all concerned with.
Senator, do you have any questions in connection with that part of it?
Senator MCGRATH. No.
The only other questions all of us are interested in, if you feel that you have legitimate criticisms to make of any portion or any part of the District government.
Mr. King. If you mean, Senator, adverse criticism, my answer is “no."
Senator Cain. Good.
Mr. King. I have lived, as Mr. Bates remarked, for 7 years while a student at Harvard University, at Cambridge, although it was a good many years ago, and you can see by looking at the color of my hair that it is a good many years ago; and I have been stationed at other places as an officer in the Army; on two separate occasions in San Antonio, Tex., and on one occasion in Fort Benning, adjacent to Columbus, Ga., and in Atlanta, and in a camp adjacent to Charlotte, N. C.; for a year at Fort Leavenworth, Kans., and I have traveled around a good deal, and I have kept my eyes open in these cities, and stayed in most of them long enough to get some notion of how the cities were run.
Here in Washington I have been a member of the Georgetown Citizens' Association ever since I was a young man. My father was president, and I am myself a past president of it, and while I have never had any official connection with the District of Columbia official government, I have always been very much interested in it.
Mr. BATEs. How long have you lived continuously in the District now?
Mr. King. Well, it has been my legal residence all my life.
Mr. King. Physically here since 1938, but I also, during my tour in the Army, lived here off and on when stationed at the War Department.
Mr. BATEs. You have no criticism whatever as to the administration of the District government here!
Mr.KING. No adverse criticism, except that I do not think it is always quite as responsive to public feeling and opinion as it might be, and perhaps ought to be.
Mr. BATES. Have you noted any extravagance or inefficiency in the administration of the District government and works of the District?
Mr. KING. Well, the Commissioners and the heads of the various departments of the District government are human beings and like all human beings, they make mistakes, but compared to other cities where I have lived, I think the District of Columbia is very well run.
Mr. BATEs. Is there any suggestion you can make as to how we can make the District government more efficient and more responsive to the wishes of the people of the District ?