Question 406.— Which of the items in the appended abstract of expenditure of a township would be classed under the head of " ordinary current expenditure " for the purpose of determining the borrowing powers of the municipality, and what amount could the township legally borrow under these conditions?

Abstract of expenditure from 1st Jan. to 31st Dec, 1900.

Officers' salaries............... $1,000

Stationery and printing......... 100

Roads and bridges.............. 1,500

County rates ................... 1,200

School purposes................ 4,000

Debentures redeemed ............ 2,000

Loans and notes paid........... 5,000

Drainage account.............. 600

Drains (for which debentures were

sold) ...................... 2,000

Sundry items.................. 900

Answer.—There is no judicial decision on the question involved which gives any definition of the words "current expenditure." The word " ordinary" does not appear in sub-section 1 of section 435 of the Municipal Act by which the authority to borrow " to meet the then current expenditure of the corporation " is given. Sub-section 2 was added five years later, and limits the amount to be borrowed to " 80 per cent. of the amount collected as taxes to pay the ordinary current expenditure of the municipality in the preceding municipal year. The word " ordinary " is here introduced, and the effect seems to be that under sub-section 1 " current expenditure" would include all expenditure which the corporation has to meet during the year until the taxes levied therefor can be collected, no matter whether such expenditure is "ordinary" or not; whereas in calculating the amount which sub-section 2 authorizes, regard must be had to the actual results of the preceding year. The "ordinary" current expenditure of that year must be ascertained and also the amount actually collected as taxes to pay such ordinary current expenditure, and only 80 per cent. of this latter amount can be borrowed, no matter what the " current expenditure" of the current year may be. It is evident that no proper comprehensive definition of " ordinary current expenditure" can be given. Most of the items included in it would not be disputed by anyone, and whether the dividing line is reached or overstepped would be a question to be determined on the facts of each case, and it would therefore serve no useful purpose for us to express an opinion upon what might be considered doubtful items, except to say that the maxim "when in doubt, don't" may well be followed here.