Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nickel and dimed

1. Just re-registered the venerable Escort. For the last half-dozen years it's been around $26 to do so. This year? Sixty bucks. More than double. Small cheese, but for most vehicles the fee is going to go up by the same amount for another two years. In other words, I'll be paying well over $100 to register by 2012.

2. During the early-mid aughts drought years, Denver Water mounted a huge ad campaign urging Denveronkians to conserve water.

It (along with mandatory watering restrictions) worked! In fact it worked so well (around a 30 percent reduction in water use, IIRC) that Denver Water not once, but at least twice raised rates because they weren't getting enough revenue (allegedly) to maintain infrastructure. Until fairly recently DW mailed bills every two months; ours was generally somewhere in the $50-$60 range. Now it's every month, and the bill this month was $47. Again, a near doubling.

3. The city is apparently going to do some work on one of the streets running by the D-blog manse. They set up "no parking" signs for the length of both sides of the block last Wednesday, forcing everyone who normally parked there to find new places.

The signs are still there. No work has been done. Worse, some of the people forced to find new places to park (including a couple of tenants) neglected to check the street sweeping signs in their new spots. Tickets all 'round! (recently raised from $20 to $25).

Denver and Colorado: livin' the Democrat dream.

Update: Okay, one more, and by far the worst: Xcel, Colorado's public gas and electric supplier--trendy misspelling is required for the names of mega-monopolies these days--just instituted a two-tier system of charging for electricity. Up to 500 KwH, just under five cents per; over that, nine cents. Again, almost double. This being an apartment building, we naturally go well over 500 (this month 1194 KwH). This alone added $82 to my bill (that's our thing: we pay utilities). Again, nearly double last year's bill from the same month.

And all in the chase for the retarded will-o-the-wisp of global warming. Right now Xcel is spending that extra money converting four coal-fired plants to "cleaner" gas, on "renewable" energy, and on "enhancing" their "public outreach" to teach us why this is worthwhile. A little while ago I chided a couple of funny-looking guys over at JWP's for being Eeyores about the future. Not so sure anymore. As a small (5'10") businessman, I know I can't sustain much more of this. If Cap-n-Trash happens, I'm (eventually) done. What am I gonna do? Raise rent 400 bucks a month for every tenant?

Update II: You know, when I took the GRE I scored almost average on the math portion. Don't know if this speaks to the relative innumeracy of GRE-takers or my huge throbbing natural intelligence (having almost flunked "Consumer Math"--i.e., "Making Change" in high school), but I made a mistake in the Xcel example. I would still have been charged for the KwHs over 500, but at the old rate, which means the increase in my bill purely from the plus-500 KwH hike is about $41. Still, this is roughly a 25 percent increase (check my math).

Update III: Also should add that this hike runs only from June through September of each year. It's specifically designed to limit people's use of a/c. Mike Rosen (a local guy who's the only talk-show host I listen to when I can) had some spokesginkess from Xcel on a few weeks ago who pushed the line that the hike was all about "choice," as in, "we want to make people aware that they have a choice to run their air conditioning or not."

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