Re: Allocating Common Costs by an Algorithm e.g. based on # adults and sq. ft.
From: R Philip Dowds (rphilipdowdsme.com)
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2021 10:42:11 -0800 (PST)
I think the closing sentence of my third paragraph was supposed to be 
referencing the additional cost and effort of sub-metering.  As was my final 
paragraph.  Sub-metering is definitely one of the technical options.  Is it 
worth it?  To whom?  (No reason for everybody to come up with the same answer …)

Thanks,
RPD

> On Mar 10, 2021, at 12:26 PM, Ken Winter <ken [at] sunward.org> wrote:
> 
> The third alternative is submetering of unit utilities.  See
> https://docs.google.com/document/d/14kO0ncu6-G0W_qJKJqsjxXT9xYAotIWSXGhqTK1aF0c/edit?usp=sharing
> for more.
> 
> On Wed, Mar 10, 2021 at 11:35 AM R Philip Dowds via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org> wrote:
> 
>> I here detect some alternative philosophies about cost sharing in
>> cohousing.
>> 
>> The most communitarian is all-in-together, w/ each dwelling unit or
>> household paying an equal share, one-for-one.  The popular variant of this
>> approach is that all common expenses are split in proportion to unit value,
>> for which unit square footage is seen as an acceptable proxy.
>> 
>> At the other end of the scale, we have pay-per-use.  Separate utility
>> metering is popular for those who advocate pay-per-use — partly because the
>> frugal don’t want to pay for the extravagances of those who “waste” power,
>> water, etc, and partly because many believe that wastefulness is more
>> likely if no measurable financial penalty accrues to the profligate.  But
>> it is usually true that one common meter will deliver utilities at
>> significantly lower cost all around than many individual meters.  After
>> committing to one common meter, it’s a matter of how much additional time
>> and money one wants to spend recapturing the data lost from, and
>> re-assigning dollar costs to, the individual households.
>> 
>> There are odd gray areas between these two extremes.  Some communities
>> have a per use charging system for common laundry equipment, and in other
>> communities, laundry machines are provide as a “free” amenity available to
>> all, just like the common kitchen or toilets.  I’ve never heard of pay
>> toilets in cohousing, but it’s kind of the logical end point of the
>> pay-per-use model.
>> 
>> Speaking as the Treasurer of a community which has fairly complex
>> pay-per-use protocols, my general advice is:  Be sure it’s really worth it
>> to you.  You can end up with pretty elaborate accounting challenges.
>> 
>> Thanks,
>> RPD
>> 
>>> On Mar 10, 2021, at 11:05 AM, Ken Winter <ken [at] sunward.org> wrote:
>>> 
>>> I'd strongly urge you to build in a system where each unit pays for its
>>> actual, measured usage of water, electricity, and gas.  You can get
>> actual
>>> measurements for each unit in two ways: (1) each unit has a meter
>> provided
>>> by the local utility and pays the utility directly, or (2) the local
>>> utility has meters on each building and the community has submeters for
>>> each unit, the community pays the utility and each unit owner pays the
>>> community for that unit's usage as measured by its submeter.  At Sunward
>>> Cohousing, after 20 years of "we all pay for everything", we have
>>> retrofitted submeters into our water billing system.  For what we did,
>> why,
>>> and how, see
>>> 
>> https://docs.google.com/document/d/14kO0ncu6-G0W_qJKJqsjxXT9xYAotIWSXGhqTK1aF0c/edit?usp=sharing
>> .
>>> This article is a quite incomplete work-in-progress, but the "why"
>> section
>>> is pretty solid.
>>> 
>>> ~ Ken Winter, Sunward Cohousing, Ann Arbor MI
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Wed, Mar 10, 2021 at 7:51 AM Jim Bronson <jimbronsonashland [at] 
>>> gmail.com
>>> 
>>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> Dear Cohousing Communities,
>>>> 
>>>> River Song is planning to break ground soon.  We are thinking about
>> having
>>>> one electric meter per building and one water meter for the whole
>> community
>>>> to save costs - which may be as much as $600/month compared to having
>>>> meters for each unit.
>>>> 
>>>> When we are up and running our HOA will allocate common costs monthly or
>>>> quarterly.  We have heard from other cohousing communities that they
>> have
>>>> evolved a way of fairly allocating common costs using an algorithm
>> based on
>>>> # of adults and square footage for each unit.
>>>> 
>>>> For our planning, I have attached a one page MS Word doc that shows an
>>>> example of how we think this could look for the simple case of a 4 unit
>>>> cohousing community.  I would appreciate hearing from communities
>>>> experienced in using algorithm allocation for common costs about what
>> they
>>>> have learned.  Also, I would like to know how their algorithms may allow
>>>> for individual variations, for example a private unit having their own
>>>> solar pv, having a hot tub or an electric car charging station, etc.
>>>> 
>>>> Thanks for sharing what you have learned.
>>>> Jim Bronson (for the Design Team)
>>>> River Song Cohousing Community
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>>>> 
>>>> 
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