80 F. 692 (8th Cir. 1897), 856, E.H. Rollins & Sons v. Board of Com'rs of Gunnison County

Docket Nº:856.
Citation:80 F. 692
Party Name:E. H. ROLLINS & SONS v. BOARD OF COM'RS OF GUNNISON COUNTY.
Case Date:May 03, 1897
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 692

80 F. 692 (8th Cir. 1897)

E. H. ROLLINS & SONS

v.

BOARD OF COM'RS OF GUNNISON COUNTY.

No. 856.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

May 3, 1897

Page 693

This was a suit which was brought by E. H. Rollins & Sons, a corporation of New Hampshire, the plaintiff in error, against the board of county commissioners of the county of Gunnison, state of Colorado, the defendant in error. The action was founded on coupons attached to 10 county bonds, each of which was in the following form:

"No. ____.

Series A. $1,000.

"United States of America.

"County of Gunnison, State of Colorado.

"Funding Bond.

'The county of Gunnison, in the state of Colorado, acknowledges itself indebted and promises to pay to . . . or bearer one thousand dollars, lawful money of the United States, for value received, redeemable at the pleasure of said county after ten years, and absolutely due and payable twenty years from the date hereof at the office of the treasurer of said county in the city of Gunnison, with interest thereon at the rate of eight per cent. per annum, payable semiannually, on the first day of March and the first day of September in each year, at the office of the county treasurer aforesaid, or at the Chase National Bank in the city of New York, at the option of the holder, upon the presentation and surrender of the annexed coupons as they severally become due. This bond is issued by the board of county commissioners of said Gunnison county in exchange, at par, for valid floating indebtedness of the said county, outstanding prior to September 2, 1882, under and by virtue of, and in full conformity with the provisions of, an act of the general assembly of the state of Colorado entitled 'An act to enable the several counties of the state to fund their floating indebtedness,' approved February 21, 1881; and it is hereby certified that all the requirements of law have been fully complied with by the proper officers in the issuing of this bond. It is further certified that the total amount of this issue does not exceed the limit prescribed by the constitution of the state of Colorado, and that this issue of bonds has been authorized by a vote of the majority of the duly-qualified electors of the said county of Gunnison voting on the question at a general election duly held in said county on the 7th day of November, A.D. 1882. The bonds of this issue are comprised in three series, designated A, B, and C, respectively; the bonds of series A being for the sum of one thousand dollars each, those of series B for the sum of five hundred dollars each, and those of series C for the sum of one hundred dollars each. This bond is one of series A. The faith and credit of the county of Gunnison are hereby pledged for the punctual payment of the principal and interest of this bond.

'In testimony whereof, the board of county commissioners of said Gunnison county have caused this bond to be signed by their chairman, countersigned by the county treasurer, and attested by the county clerk, under the seal of the county, this first day of December, A.D. 1882.'

The coupons attached to said bonds were in the following form:

"$40.00. County of Gunnison. $40.00.

"In the State of Colorado.

"Will pay the bearer forty dollars at the office of the county treasurer in

the city of Gunnison, or at the Chase National Bank in the city of New York, on

the first day of March, 188_, being six months' interest on funding bond.

"No. ____. Series A.

'__________,

"County Treasurer."

The answer to the complaint, which was very lengthy, pleaded, in substance, that the bonds to which the coupons in suit were attached had been issued in an attempt to fund a pretended floating indebtedness of the county of Gunnison, which was evidenced by county warrants; that said floating indebtedness was contracted under, and subject to the provisions of, section 6, art. 11, of the constitution of Colorado (Laws Colo. 1877, p. 62); that when said indebtedness was contracted and said warrants were issued the county of Gunnison already had an outstanding indebtedness exceeding $6 per $1,000 of the assessed

Page 694

valuation of the property in the county, exclusive of debts contracted before the adoption of the constitution, and exclusive of debts contracted for erecting public buildings and in making and repairing roads and bridges; that the indebtedness to fund which said bonds had been issued when such indebtedness was created, or pretended to be created, was in excess of the amount of lawful indebtedness which could be created by the county of Gunnison under the provisions of section 6, art. 11, of the constitution of the state; and that the bonds issued to fund warrants representing such illegal indebtedness were themselves wholly illegal and void.

The act of February 21, 1881, referred to in the foregoing bond, contained, among others, the following provision: 'Section 1. It shall be the duty of the county commissioners of any county having a floating indebtedness exceeding ten thousand dollars, upon the petition of fifty of the electors of said counties (county) who shall have paid taxes upon property assessed to them in said county in the preceding year, to publish for the period of thirty days in a newspaper published within said county, a notice requesting the holders of the warrants of such county to submit in writing to the board of county commissioners, within thirty days from the date of the first publication of such notice, a statement of the amount of the warrants of such county which they will exchange at par, and accrued interest, for the bonds of such county, to be issued under the provisions of this act, taking such bonds at par. It shall be the duty of such board of county commissioners at the next general election occurring after the expiration of thirty days from the date of the first publication of the notice aforementioned upon the petition of fifty of the electors of such county who shall have paid taxes upon property assessed to them in said county in the preceding year, to submit to the vote of the qualified electors of such county who shall have paid taxes on property assessed to them in said county in the preceding year, the question whether the board of county commissioners shall issue bonds of...

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