Mon, Feb. 17

Editorial: The math doesn’t add up with city watchdogs’ newest gripe about Cottonwood

The latest social media buzz from the Cottonwood city government watchdogs has to do with the number of people employed by the city.

The claim by the city watchdogs is that Cottonwood employs 56 people for every 1000 local residents.

That has a lot of people at City Hall scratching their heads.

“I don’t know where they came up with that,” said City Manager Doug Bartosh. “That number is goofy.”

Some basic math shows the claim to be far from accurate. According to Bartosh, the city has 209 full-time equivalent employees on the payroll.

To come up with a 56-per-1000 ratio based on 209 employees, Cottonwood would have a population of 3,732 people, which was exactly what we had in about 1968.

But at the current city population of roughly 12,000, that ratio drops to 17.4 employees for every 1000 local residents.

It’s even lower when you consider the “service population” of Cottonwood. Toss in Verde Village and Verde Santa Fe, and Cottonwood’s service population expands to about 30,000 people. That lowers the ratio to about 7 employees for every 1,000 people.

At the other extreme, even if you count the city’s approximately 150 part-time employees and combine them with the 209 FTE employees, the math then only adds up to 30 city employees per 1000 residents.

Still a far cry from 56-per-1000.

As the city’s budget guru, Rudy Rodriguez, explains, “This comparison, like many others that are made to discredit our community, are not apples-to-apples comparisons and blatantly unfair. In the Verde Valley, there are no communities to fairly compare to since not all have water or fire departments, or pools, or Recreation Center, or libraries or airports.”

As for how the city watchdogs came up with the 56-employees-per-1000-residents ratio, the best guess is that they divided the city’s total population, which fluctuates between 11,500 and 12,000 depending on the source, by the number of full-time equivalent city employees (209). That gives you 56, but it does not give you the proper ratio per 1000 residents. Anyone who paid attention during sixth-grade math class and learned the ratio principles of cross multiply and divide easily understand that.

So, yes, the city watchdogs have a leg to stand on when it comes to being angry at the government.

In this case, they have a legitimate beef with the public school system that taught them math.

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