Franchises for Private Water-Works.
THERE is this much to be said in their favor. If public spirit is not alive enough to meet the demands of the people in their efforts to obtain a public water supply, and the necessity is prominent for a water supply, then it cannot, in reason, be a foundation to find fault with capital seeking to obtain a franchise to supply water to the town under as favorable circumstances as possible. Capital will not invest in private water-works unless protected by liberal terms made with the town, and it is unreasonable to expect otherwise. It is unfair and unbusinesslike to give capital an opportunity to be invested profitably in the development of a water-works plant, and then seek, by appealing to the prejudices of the people, to destroy their investment by taking away their charter privileges and the inherent rights given to them. “ It’s a poor rule that does not work both ways ” If after a number of years a private water company has borne the “heat and burden of the day,” it is no more than fair and honorable that their rights and privileges confirmed by the charter given them should be respected.
If it be the disposition of the people to institute condemnation proceedings and acquire the ownership of the water-works plant, they should be willing to pay a price for a franchise commensurate with its money value to those that invested their money, with the hope of obtaining a fair remuneration compatible with the risks assumed with the beginning of the enterprise, and when few, if any, of the people of the town were willing to risk money in the development of the scheme.