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The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 14, Number 3 (Dec. 1912)

Schwenker, C. F.
Municipal accounting,   pp. [152]-155


Page [152]


COURSE IN COMMERCE
MUNICIPAL ACCOUNTING
        C. F. SCHWENKER, '11
  has co~ne, within
ist decade, a steady
h in the appreciation
iformity in account-
The development has
en in any one line of
           industry nor particularly
in those whose product is in itself
standard or peculiarly adapted to the
keeping of unit costs, but it is rather
being applied in many cases to those
which heretofore have been regarded
as being too individual to have much
of any system   whatever.  The keen
competition of modern business has
made cost keeping and unit costs a
familiar phrase. The almost univer-
sal recognition of the efficiency factor
of production in the single factory is
steadily broadening and including the
efficiency of the groups of producers
in that industry. And therefore in
this ceaseless struggle to eliminate
what is unnecessary and to reduce the
cost of producing, the industries are
getting down to a more and more uni-
form method of recording their opera-
tions.
   For a very long time there has been
 an inexplicable attitude of the average
 citizen to the municipalities in which
 he lives or with which he comes
 into contact, that it is different from
 anything pertaining to business, that
the receipts and   disbursements  of
public moneys art not to be thought
of in the same light as those of pri-
vate individuals, that extravagance in
municipal affairs is to be deplored
and to be denounced at election time
but not to be checked. But at last
the struggle of private enterprise for
uniformity has infected the public.
The states of Massachusetts, Ohio and
Wisconsin have, by legislative enact-
ment, begun this work of standardiza-
tion of municipal accounting and the
results are beginning to become ap-
parent.
  The state of Wisconsin is not ma-
terially different from other states in
the fact that very few of its inhabi-
tants know much of the actual mu-
nicipal conditions in which they live.
Few, indeed, take the trouble to try
to learn what are the revenues of the
town, village, city or county in which
they reside and what becomes of
them. The few statutory reports and
accountings that are made are usu-
ally in such form that the facts there-
in contained are not readily evident.
So true is this that in one town com-
prised of but two or three townships,
defalcations over a period of a dozen
or more years and amounting to some
$40,000 would have remained undis-
covered had it not been for the care-


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