Monday, April 24, 2006

Cheaper Water in the Desert

In Buffalo, New York, they are astonished to learn that water in the desert in Phoenix is cheaper than any water district in their area adjoining one of the largest lakes in the world. Buffalo News reports the data:
An Erie County homeowner using an average 6,600 gallons a month will pay just under $18 to the county water authority or $23 to Buffalo's water department. But in the sprawling City of Phoenix, the same volume costs less than $10 a month, even with fees and sales tax added and even during the summer months when Phoenix jacks up its rates.
And the newspaper found the reason: Less government. People expect honest, streamlined government and they get it in Phoenix. In New York people accept layers of bureaucracy and some level of corruption.
"Mesa has a population of one-half million people but only one school system, one superintendent of schools, one superintendent of highways and one chief of police," he said. The governor, he points out, earns $95,000 a year - less than Buffalo's mayor, the county executive, or the official secretary of the Erie County Water Authority or any of its other top staff. Some part of the water price disparity can be chalked up to Western New York's payroll. The Erie County Water Authority - known to hire political functionaries and politicians in the pension-padding sunset of their careers - employs one worker for every 616 customers. Buffalo's system has a worker for every 680. In contrast, the Gilbert, Ariz., system has far fewer workers, one for every 890 customers.
Though there are other factors: cheaper electricity, the federal Colorado River project put in a lot of infrastructure. But also the declining population in the Buffalo area causes the costs to be spread over a smaller population. But my battery is running out....

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