Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fiber plan saves Lafayette 2.5 Million?

The Advertiser online has a longish interview with Joey Durel. It's a bit odd in that it seems organized not around reporters questions but around redigested questions solicited from the papers "readers." If you've ever glanced at the tone the Advertiser has allowed to spring up around its online discussion forums you'll not be surprised at the unformed and vaguely hostile questions the process puts in Claire Taylor's mouth.

But what warrants mentioning the interview here is that deep into it Claire repeats a question about using money from LUS or the fiber project for roads. This, of course, is just dumb. That money is simply not available for anything else. (Elsewhere the same crew of questioners has made a big thing out of "dedicating" money.) This has been pointed out often and really is no longer reasonably viewed as an honest question.

What's interesting though is that Durel claims that even with expenses Lafayette is 2.5 million to the good on the fiber initiative. The idea is that the long delay between Cox rate raises in Lafayette--a delay no one else in the region experienced--can be attributed to not wanting to further offend Lafayette and fuel its already white-hot anger at the corporation while there was a chance the city might still back off.

That $2.5 million is an interesting number and pretty credible if you take into account just how much money Cox pulls out of the community every month. I'd dearly love to see the background figures on this.

Here's the interview segment that deals with fiber:
CT: Another said that hundreds if not million of taxes dollars have already been spent on the fiber project and planning and campaigning, fighting the legal battles, and the project still hasn't been built. Shouldn't that money been spent on roads instead?

JD: No. Let me state very clearly that money was not available for roads. As I stated earlier, in government, unlike you and me, if you have some money in savings, and you can't pay your house note this month you can take money out of your savings. In government, LUS has certain laws that regulate it. We can't just go to LUS and say you have some extra money. We want it. We can't go to the school board and say look you all have a property tax that you are getting a bunch of money and I know you have your needs, but I think we want the extra money this year. We can't go to LUS and just take money to build roads. It's against the law. What people don't realize is that the fiber project has saved this community, I just saw something in the last week or so, had saved the consumers in this community over $2.5 million.

CT: How's that?

JD: Because Baton Rouge received pricing increases on their cable that we did not receive.

CT: We did get increases.

JD: We got one recently. But they have gotten some before we did. But because we were talking about a fiber optic project we didn't have price increases. So in this community, we did some math, and found out we have saved this community $2.5 million, which is much more than we spent on legal fees. So I think it's money well spent. By the way, LUS hasn't caused the legal fees to be spent. People should not be mad at LUS for spending legal fees to try to do something great for this community. There are other people that that anger should be redirected at.


Nick Istre said...

Hmm... I would also like to see some numbers behind that $2.5 million estimate. It is plausible, but I'm curious myself.

John said...

Hi Nick,

I agree. Plausable...but worth looking hard at the figures. One very interesting figure that would have to be a starting point would be the total amount of money that Cox pulls in from this community every month. That's gotta be a big number.

keeping more of that money "home" is a form of community reinvestment which should be treated just like getting any other new revenue source (like the new call center) which pumps cash into the local economy. Typically enconomic development mavens apply a multiplier like 6x to a new revenue flow, implying that it increases the local wealth by 6x. Looking at it that way could really highlight the purely economic benefits of fiber.

I'll add that to my list of things to think on after the election. :-)