Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Rain that Pays for Itself

Mimi Kaplan
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research – Milken innovation center

Atop a 1,000 square meter roof of a school building, rainwater falls and runs down into gutters at the perimeter. Through the gutters, the rainwater flows into a large reservoir either by the force of gravity, or with the help of sub-pumps. The reservoir is connected to the school’s toilets by a separate line in order to avoid cross connections with city water.  A pressure switch activates only upon a toilet flush in the school bathroom, causing the rainwater to flow once again and refill the toilet. Through these pipes, reservoirs and pumps, this system captures the valuable natural resource of rainwater and puts it to use. 
This is the model of rainwater catchment system that Amir Yechieli's company, Yevul Mayim, has installed at 150 schools in Israel so far. Once built, the systems are used as educational tools by the schools, to teach students concepts of conservation and research methods like data collection and arithmetic. Though there have been many national and international sponsors of the systems like the Jewish National Fund, Rotary International and the Jerusalem Foundation, the systems are viable as a financially and environmentally sustainable investment in their own right. 
The system described above has the collection potential of approximately 429 cubic meters annually, or 2,681 bathtubs full of water, given Jerusalem's average amount of rainfall. The actual volume of rainwater moving from roof to toilet depends on the total amount of rainfall , its distribution, the storage capacity, and number of toilets hooked up to the system. This is 429 cubic meters of rainwater that would not incur the energy costs of treatment and pumping, or the direct financial cost of NIS 9.95 (including value added tax) per cubic meter, which comes out to NIS 4,269 annually at the water rate for public buildings. 
The average cost of a modest rainwater catchment system for a school rooftop in Jerusalem is NIS 30,000 with negligible operating and maintenance costs. This capital cost could be paid for in a number of ways, all of which assume use of all of the 429 cubic meters, and that money would be set aside for repairs. First, as mentioned above, a philanthropic organization could pay the full capital cost. Second, a public-private partnership between the school, the municipality and a private installation company could be created to finance and build the project. The initial capital cost could be split between the three partners, and the school could pay the other two back over time through a negotiated percent of the avoided cost. Third, a third of the capital cost could be raised by the school's local community, and two thirds paid for by a 5-year loan that the school takes from a commercial bank (at market borrowing terms). And fourth, the municipality could take a 5-year loan (at market borrowing terms) from the national government to pay for the creation of rainwater catchment systems. The number of years it takes for the money saved by installing a 1,000 square meter rainwater catchment system to equal the NIS 30,000 capital cost is depicted in the graph. Jerusalem has approximately 896,112 square meters of roof space on public buildings, which yields a potential water saving of 384,253 cubic meters annually. Expanding the number of rainwater catchment systems on Jerusalem's roofs through any of these four financial mechanisms would lead the city to continuously save more water, energy, and money.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fight for Your Right (To Pay Tax)

Dafna Shemer
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research

Jerusalem’s Arnona (municipal tax) is particularly high, the highest in Israel. In 2014 Jerusalem’s total due Arnona was 1,173,000,00 NIS (New Israeli Shekels) for 212,000 housing units. Arnona discounts amounted to 26% of the total, with 40% of the discounts going to residents from Jerusalem neighborhoods of low socio-economic status (a socio-economic status of 2-5, with 20 being the highest status, according to the 2008 census).
An examination of Jerusalem’s lower socio-economic neighborhoods reveals an interesting picture regarding the exercise of rights on the part of East Jerusalem versus West Jerusalem residents. These neighborhoods are geographically and socially distinguishable as areas populated by the ultra-orthodox (haredi) in West Jerusalem and by Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Most (72%) of the properties in West Jerusalem that belong to residents of lower socio-economic standing have a ranking of 4 or 5, whereas in East Jerusalem only 49% of the properties belong to residents with a ranking of 4 or 5.
Building on the assumption that people with the same socio-economic status would receive the same discount in Arnona, given their income, we examined lower socio-economic neighborhoods in West Jerusalem and in East Jerusalem. We examined how many discounts were granted on the basis of income, as a proportion of the total number of apartments in the neighborhood. Evidently, the percentage of Arnona discounts based on income, as a proportion of the total number of apartments, is higher in West Jerusalem (39%) than in East Jerusalem (26%). For the sake of comparison, we note that in neighborhoods of higher socio-economic standing (15-19), 6% of the apartments receive a discount on the basis of income.
Both East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem neighborhoods show a decrease in the percentage of discounts granted on the basis of income as the socio-economic ranking of the neighborhood rises. East Jerusalem neighborhoods with a socio-economic status of 2 received discounts for 27% of the apartments therein, whereas West Jerusalem neighborhoods with a ranking of 2 received discounts for 42% of the apartments therein. East Jerusalem neighborhoods with a socio-economic status of 5 received discounts for 15% of the apartments therein, while for West Jerusalem this figure was 35%.
When we examine the total Arnona collected, in relation to the total due without discount, amidst residents of lower socio-economic standing, we find that collection rates in East Jerusalem (72%) are lower than in West Jerusalem (85%). Here too, as the socio-economic status increases from 2 to 5, Arnona collection rates increase. For higher socio-economic rankings (15-19), collection rates are higher too – at 96%.
In sum, one might conclude that residents of West Jerusalem are more effectively exercising their rights vis-à-vis Arnona than East Jerusalem residents. And perhaps as a consequence, Arnona collection in West Jerusalem is more effective and efficient than it is in East Jerusalem.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Employment Integration and the Jerusalem Intifada

Marik Shtern
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research

Since the end of the second intifada and construction of the separation fence, the economic and employment integration of Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents within West Jerusalem has been on the increase. The demographic growth of the city’s Palestinian population, on the one hand, and the economic crisis in East Jerusalem caused by the separation fence and consequent disconnection from the Palestinian economy, on the other, resulted in the integration of this population group into the Israeli labor market on a scale and scope unprecedented since 1967. Newly available data of the National Insurance Institute (social security), as processed by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research in relation to the composition and characteristics of persons employed in Jerusalem during 2006-2015, reveal that in 2015 the increase in number of Arab workers was halted, for the first time ever, and even reversed slightly.
As of 2015 employed residents of Jerusalem numbered 278,403. The relative proportion of employed Arabs within the city’s labor force grew steadily between 2006 and 2015, from 22% in 2006 to 28% in 2015. During this period the number of employed Arabs registered with the East Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute rose from 45,730 to 74,204 – an increase of 62%. In 2015 this increase was halted and the total even declined by 110 employees.
Current data on recipients of unemployment benefits and income support can, to a certain extent, help explain why the city’s Arab labor force stopped increasing. According to National Insurance Institute data, the number of recipients of unemployment benefits among East Jerusalem Arabs rose steadily from 352 in 2008 to 1,501 in 2015 – an increase of 426% in seven years. The main increase took place during 2013-2015. In addition, the number of income support recipients from East Jerusalem also jumped, nearly doubling between 2011 and 2015, from 3,853 to 5,793 – about 700 more than the number of Jewish income support recipients in the city for the same year. These figures presumably reflect the large number of Arab workers who were excluded from the employment cycle in recent years. Their exclusion can probably be explained in terms of the economic crisis that befell Jerusalem’s private employment sector following the events of the Jerusalem intifada, as well as instances of dismissal or refusal to employ Arab workers in West Jerusalem during this period. At the same time, the increase in recipients of unemployment benefits and income support could also indicate an increase in awareness and capability within this population group when it comes to implementing their social rights. In other words, their economic integration and what has recently been termed their “Israelization” actually enable Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to claim their social rights under conditions of economic crisis or dismissal from work, which in turn result from an intensification of the national conflict in the city.

Translation: Merav Datan