9 September 2016
We have had several questions from members of the community regarding the eruv appeal. Most come down to two questions:
- Why is it so expensive to run the eruv?
- Isn’t it blackmail and inappropriate to “threaten” to take down the eruv?
Here are a few basic answers:
- Our annual budget runs at about $120,000 per year.
- We have a crew of three rabbinical inspectors with drivers that check the eruv every week.
- We also have a crew with our own dedicated lift truck that spend hours every Thursday night and often Friday making repairs.
- Then we have insurance, special insurance for CalTrans, D&O liability insurance, auto insurance, etc..
- We also spend several thousand dollars each year on truck maintenance and repairs to keep it safe and usable.
Because we are maintaining the largest eruv in the country if not the world, and because it is made up of miles of fences and walls rather than just fishing line our costs for materials, poles, fences, etc. is significant.
We ran about $30,000 short this year and had to borrow it from our emergency fund.
We also have 45-year-old lift truck that must be replaced sometime between tomorrow and next year. For a used 15-year-old truck it will cost $70,000.
So we are looking to raise: $120k + $30k + $70k for a total of $220,000.
We actually ran out of money and had to write a personal check to pay a contractor this week to remove a tree (see September 2016 story).
We run the complete eruv including maintenance, engineering, government relations, insurance etc. for less than the cost of a single administrator at most institutions.
To be stable, we need two things:
- $54 per family from the general community
- A reliable base of families at $500/$1000/$2000 per year.
With the above two elements, we would could reliably provide this service to the community.
As to “threatening” to bring the eruv down, it kills us to even consider skipping a week. We’ve been up for 14 years with only 2 down weeks.
Nevertheless, this is a service not a charity and we can’t run to the engineering and maintenance standards that our rabbinic board demand without the ability to pay for our teams.
We have borrowed $30,000 from our emergency fund and have now run out of money. This week we had to write a personal check to pay a contractor to remove a tree from a fence.
If we don’t have money to pay the crew and to pay our insurance bills, then everyone stays home. If we don’t warn the community, it is irresponsible. If we do warn you, people call it blackmail, if we warn you and manage to keep it up, people call it crying wolf. So we went with the simple model, tell people what is actually happening, hold things together the best that we can and take our lumps when people get mad.
The community has been very supportive of the eruv these past 15 years, and we are grateful. We look forward to your continued support.