Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/503

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487
GAS MANUFACTURE AND GAS COMPANIES.

of this country was in Philadelphia—$2.30. In Boston the price was $2.50, and in New York $2.75; these prices were, however, reduced, in the early part of 1876, to $2.25 and $2.50, respectively. The prices charged in the smaller cities are, as a rule, much higher, being in some cases—Ashland and Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, for example—as high as $10 per 1,000. In Detroit, Michigan, owing to a temporary war between an old and a new company, the price was as low as 50 cents per 1,000 in one part of the city, and $1 in another; while in a third, supplied only by the pipes of the old company, it was $3.

With regard to the Philadelphia company, which, as before stated, is under control of the municipal authorities, it was found that, while the price charged was the lowest, the cost of the gas was the highest. It had been alleged that the authorities were in the habit of giving employment to laborers for political purposes about election-time, and it was found that the cost of labor was ten cents per 1,000 feet greater than in other works. The proportion of capital to business done varies very greatly with different companies. In Washington, D. C, it was $1.46 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas sold, and in Brookline, Massachusetts, $17.50. "This," remark the commissioners, "must be due, to a great extent, to improper investments or expenditures, and is the great argument against any monopoly being in the hands of a private corporation, and in favor of its management by municipal authorities, since a corporation, having a monopoly, has the power to charge such a price as may be necessary to pay its dividends, and has, therefore, no inducement to diminish its capital, but, on the contrary, one to increase it." The average capital and borrowed money of the London companies, in 1874, was $4.54 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas sold.

As information given them touching the net cost of manufacture was confidential, the commissioners were deterred from publishing the facts as they found them, and forced to resort to giving an approximation. For this purpose, they compare the New York Mutual Company and the Boston Gaslight Company, as being more nearly on an equality, with respect to business done and capital employed, than any others, and deduct the "amount of dividends and taxes pro rata per 1,000 cubic feet sold from the average price of gas to the consumer." Each of these companies has an actual paid-in capital of $2,500,000, and bonds to the amount of $500,000. The first paid, in 1875, twenty per cent, dividends on the capital, six per cent, interest on the bonds, and $50,000 taxes, making, in all, $580,000, which, divided among 509,000,000 cubic feet of gas sold, gives $1.14 for each 1,000 feet; this amount, deducted from the net price per 1,000 feet, $2.65, leaves $1.51, which is supposed to be the cost of the gas; and that, the commissioners assure us, is even more than the actual cost. In the same manner the cost of the Boston gas is ascertained to be $1.85 per 1,000 feet, or thirty-four cents more. This difference is