Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Did They Say?

I was scooting along on my way to work this morning, listening to a local morning show when the news came on. There are only three or four minutes allotted for local news and they try to cram in as much as possible.

One of today’s stories concerned the ongoing tussle between the city and the water authority over rate hikes and money needed as part of the Act 47 financing deal. There was already a 12% increase in water but they’ve been arguing over a sewer usage hike. The water authority said no. The city said yes. Today’s news stated that the water authority has given in to a matching increase in sewer fees because doing anything else would require a complex formula that would take too much time. Huh? Did I hear that correctly? I listened again in half an hour and yes, I did. Um, okay. So no one knows a seventh graders who takes beginning algebra who could help with that?

Then I read the newspaper. Their version is slightly different as they gave it marginally more attention than the radio news had time for. According to the article there, it’s the city having trouble with the formula. They’re the one who actually process the bills. The city managing director said that currently sewer rates are calculated at 161% of water consumption. If they raise water by 12%, the complex formula to keep the sewer fee at its non-12% increased fee would make the bills take twice as long to calculate. Apparently he doesn’t know any seventh graders either.

This made me curious. Just how hard was it to come up with a formula that could raise water rates without significantly changing the sewer portion of a bill? I haven’t had algebra in almost 30 years so admittedly I’m a little slow. It took me four minutes, including testing, to come up with something that could be applied across a broad spectrum. That’s the entire length of the radio stations news broadcasts. And, in case you’re wondering, it is not anywhere near anything resembling a complex formula that would cause even the slowest of computers to double its calculation time.

If anyone in the city government is interested, I’d be happy to share it with them. But I’m sure they’re not. That would mean they wouldn’t get the extra revenue their idiocy is going to bring in.

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