Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Detroit Water & Sewage Report That Wasn't

Mayor Dave Bing released a report yesterday, which claimed that Detroit Water & Sewage Department could cut its staff by 81%, save approximately $900 million over the coming decade, and hold off rate increases. The Detroit Free Press has more on this report here, including a link to actual report that Mayor Bing released.

Much has already been written about this in other outlets. I would like to focus on three points that no one else seems to have picked up on.

First, I have a quick note to Mayor Bing and everyone who works for him. A series of bullet points (in a 14 point font, no less) coupled with a series of numbers that you don't back up does not qualify as a report. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the DWSD report is. Nothing but bullet points and unsubstantiated numbers.

I used to work on Wall Street in a previous life. If I had turned in something like what Mayor Bing released yesterday, I would have been fired on the spot.

In addition, the cost savings that DWSD is projecting by outsourcing employee responsibilities to private contractors seem really dubious. The report doesn't specify how they arrived at those numbers, but - as someone who has gone through more financial reports than I care to think about - their numbers just don't past the smell test.

Finally, I also have concerns about their plan to cut chemical usage by 15%. Those chemicals are used to treat sewage and make sure that our drinking water exceeds clean drinking water standards. If we cut their usage by 15%, will everything still be as clean?

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