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examination of the last State enumeration by means of Senate documents and the United States census as published, it was discov. ered that, through some unknown cause, the enumeration in certain villages, instead of being properly confined to the boundaries of such villages, had been extended outside of the limits and included the names of persons residing in contiguous territory who were not village residents. Such being the situation présented to the Department, it became necessary to determine at once whether the census must be accepted as final, or the actual population of such villages could be determined apart from it; since, under the law, a new enumeration was unprovided for, except in cases of subsequently incorporated villages or cities. This wholly unexpected state of affairs threatened to seriously in pair the tax revenue in those localities, if the census was to be regarded as conclusive and not subject to correction, as it compelled the assessment of the lowest tax instead of one double or even treble in amount. Several of these cases were brought to the attention of the Department while it was proceeding with the work of enumerating new cities and villages as required by the act and demands were made that the tax should be reduced, on the ground that in all cases where the census did not show a city or village to have been separately enumerated, it must be treated as a town.
The village of Waterford, in Saratoga county, well known as one of the oldest villages in the State, and having an admitted population of over 3,000, was assessed by the Department as a village of "over 1,200 inhabitants,” and subject to a tax of $200, under subdivision 1, of section 11, etc. Opposition was made to this assessment and a demand made upon the Department that the tax be reduced to $100. The Department declined to accede to this demand and proceedings were commenced in the Supreme Court to compel the reduction. The decision was adverse to the Department and, following this decision, numerous claims were made in the case of other villages for like cause. Thematter having become one of great importance to the State's revenue, it was deemed advisable to make a thorough investigation of the subject at the office of the United States Census Bureau at Washington. The result of this examination proved that several of the villages which appear in the published report as included with towns were, in fact, separately enumerated.
REPORTS OF EXCISE BOARDS. Although, under the law, the several boards of excise in towns, cities and villages were required to make verified reports only to the officials therein specified, yet it seemed eminently proper and possibly important that an accurate collation of such reports should be made and kept in the archives of the Department in order that it might show the exact status of the liquor traffic throughout the State at the inauguration of the new system; and also furnish needed information in matters of almost daily consideration by the Department. In order to carry out this project, copies of such reports were obtained from all special deputy commissioners and county treasurers, transcribed in alphabetical order and bound in thirteen volumes.
These records of sworn reports show that in many localities there was an evident intent to evade the new law by a breach of the old. This fraud was attempted by cancelling existing licenses and extending new ones, in some instances to double the lawful term, as will appear by examination of the various county tables hereinafter published, and, but for the provision terminating all licenses on June 30, 1896, would have proved a serious and possibly irre. mediable difficulty in executing the law according to its evident
SPECIAL AGENTS. In the choice of Special Agents vexatious and retarding complications were encountered.
There were no lists from which Special Agents could be drawn under the Civil Service rules. On the 9th of April, the Civil Service Commission classified the employes of the Department as follows:
“All the employes of the new Department of Excise are classified under Civil Service rules, being placed in the schedules that seem most appropriate for the various positions. The distinctly clerical force is placed in Schedule B, which is strictly competitive. The Special Agents are placed in Schedule C. Under this classification Special Agents will be subject to a strict examination for qualification by the State Civil Service Commission. This classification of the Special Agents is in accordance with the classification of special excise agents in the city of New York, who are superseded under the new law, and which classification was made with the approval of the Civil Service Commission. The duties of Special Agents are quite similar to those of Special Agents in the United States Treasury Department, and those Special Agents are not subject to competitive examination.”
Following the foregoing rule and classification, on April 22d, I nominated for examination and temporary appointment twentyseven Special Agents in the cities of New York, Brooklyn and Buffalo, of whom but thirteen passed and were permanently
troller that, under a decision of the Court of Appeals, no more State
employes appointed upon non-competitive examination could be legally paid, I refrained from further appointment of Agents until such time as their status under the law should be settled. By resolution of May 28th the Civil Service Commission suspended rules Nos. 20 to 24 inclusive, thus abolishing all appointments under schedule C, or the non-competitive class.
Upon application being made by this Department for eligible lists from which Special Agents could be drawn, competitive examinations were held, and on the 20th of July the lists were furnished me. From these lists as I found time to inform myself concerning the character and fitness of the applicants, I have drawn the required number of Agents. In this drawing I have had but little privilege of selection, as the law requires both the Civil Service Commission and the appointing officers to give veterans the preference over all others, regardless of their standing, and some of the lists contained more names of veterans than there were vacancies to be filled.
From these lists I have secured many good men, but in some instances, have found men thereon unfit for any responsible position. I have assumed the right to make inquiries regarding the sobriety, integrity, business habits and ability of all candidates certified to me for appointment, and, in cases where they were found mani. festly unfit for the service, have furnished the Commission with written proof of that fact. Such candidates have been promptly removed from the lists by the Civil Service Commissioners, who have at all times endeavored to reconcile the obstructive and inconsistent provisions of the law with the needs of this Department, and I desire to acknowledge my obligation to the honorable members of that commission and their employes for their uniform kindness and courtesy to this Department under the peculiarly trying circumstances which surrounded its organization.
16 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE STATE COMMISSIONER OF EXCISE.
LEGAL DEPARTMENT. The imperative necessity for legal counsel to the Department became apparent very early. Not only was the new law to be promptly and accurately construed, but a multitude of questions arising thereunder was constantly being pressed upon the excise officials by citizens generally. County treasurers, district attorneys, , sheriffs and other officials, in the absence of precedents and judicial decisions, were daily applying to the Department for rulings on questions affecting their official duties. Instead of this volume of questions decreasing, as was hoped, it has continued to increase. Scores of inquiries are daily received from citizens of all classes, as to rights which they deem affected by the law, which require answer.