Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It Belongs in a Museum!

Omer Yaniv
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research

Jerusalem is a city of museums. In the past, archaeological findings discovered in Jerusalem would be displayed in small exhibit halls primarily in the Old City’s churches and monasteries. This practice changed in 1938, when the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum was built outside of the Old City walls. Later, after the State of Israel was founded, cultural institutions opened throughout the city, including the Israel Museum in 1965, the Museum for Islamic Art in 1974, and the Bible Lands Museum as well as the Science Museum in 1992. Throughout these years museums were also opened in existing buildings, including the Tower of David Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Old Yishuv Court Museum. In the near future Jerusalem is expected to see additional museum openings in the new “Museum Complex” surrounding the Israel Museum, where the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel and the National Library are slated to open in the coming years.
The Israel Museum, which is Israel’s national museum, is the most popular of Jerusalem’s museums, and for good reason. In 2015 it displayed more than 290,000 collection items in 34 different exhibits, and had some 730,000 visitors. Other Jerusalem museums that drew large crowds in 2015 were the Bloomfield Science Museum with 291,000 visitors, the Tower of David Museum with 266,000 visitors, and the Bible Lands Museum with 228,000 visitors. In 2013, about 37% of all visitors to Israel’s recognized museums had visited a museum in Jerusalem. In other words, Jerusalem’s museums had more than 1,630,000 visitors, compared with 1,070,000 visitors to museums in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area (24% of all visitors to museums in Israel) and 530,000 visitors to museums in Haifa and its surroundings (12% of all visitors).

Sources: PILAT and Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research
Translated by Merav Datan

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   en.jerusaleminstitute.org.il

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.