Saturday, March 15, 2008

When a dollar is not a dollar (Only in Amherst)

So even from Florida I can, finally, read about the 70-K water debt discovered by a rookie Amherst meter reader.

Because this is not exactly a Watergate kind of story the Bricks and Mortar media left out some context: Amherst water system does not differentiate between water and sewer, although each is billed at $3 per cubic foot (1,500 gallons). Every drop that comes into a home is considered a drop that exits via the sewer system. So essentially, all Amherst homeowners pay $6 per cubic foot.

Thus when we water our lawns or wash the car in the spring and summer we really pay twice what we should. So I’m hoping town officials charged the car wash for both water and sewer (and 99% of their usage does leave via the sewer).

Thus the $70,000 is evenly split between two separate Enterprise Funds each costing about $3.5 million annually to operate. But the state says that all monies within an Enterprise Fund have to stay within that fund and cannot be used for teachers, police or library books.

Hence Town Officials (other than DPW, of course who ride on herd on them) don’t care about the Water, Sewer, or Solid Waste Fund. And they only took interest in the Transportation Fund when they stretched the law to siphon off $100-K for outreach PVTA buses that get sparse ridership.

And that is why the Select board, acting as Sewer Commissioners, were so quick to flush down the toilet the $40-K in effluent water Umass uses for heat (but will soon be using to irrigate extensive recreation fields and in the new Science Building for cooling thus potentially doubling their usage of effluent…and why not? The town has given them a Use-All-You-Want-Free card.

So that’s why I’m confused the Town Manager had to get the Select board to officially vote to give Umass the freebie (a close 3-2 vote with 2 of the 3 Yes votes having economic ties to Umass) but when another large user is inadvertently not charged for five years do to a billing error the Select board suddenly has no role?


O'Reilly said...

"Simple interest" due on $70,000 accrued over 5 years assuming same water usage each year and an interest rate of 5%

$14K year 1 * 700+700+700+700+700
$14K year 2 * 700+700+700+700
$14K year 3 * 700+700+700
$14K year 4 * 700+700
$14K year 5 * 700


So who in town government is authorized to write-off $10,000 dollars in tax revenue, the time value of money?

LarryK4 said...

The unelected Boss Hogg Mayor, that's who.