Red flags wave, flares ignite and the radar screens of most reporters begin showing blips whenever the words "It's complicated" are heard. Experience teaches that anyone prefacing a statement with "It's complicated," is usually unable or possibly unwilling to simplify.
While some things, such as rocket science and brain surgery are complicated, most routine matters are not and neither are sewer issues once you get past the engineering aspect. Perhaps some of the financing gets involved - such as who pays for what -- but it's not complicated.
The warning signals went off last week when Chadds Ford Township Supervisor Garry Paul, who is supervisors' liaison to the township Sewer Authority, uttered those "It's complicated" words several times while discussing the Toll Bros. sewer project.
To hear Mr. Paul talk about the Toll Bros. sewer project, with Sewer Authority member Paul Linsen one was forced to liken the situation to a Gordian Knot.
First, we state for the record that we do not believe there is any deliberate deception going on. There is no evidence to that effect nor should any disingenuousness be inferred. None is implied.
It's simply a matter of basic communication or, rather, lack thereof.
At issue was Mr. Linsen's remarks reported in the Chadds Ford Post's March 2 edition. Mr. Linsen said at the time there was "an imputed tapping fee" of $5,000 to the buyers of the Toll Bros. homes at camp Sunset Hill.
Mr. Paul, and several members of the Sewer Authority took exception to that.
As reported this week, those future homeowners will pay no tapping fee to the Sewer Authority. That cost is built in to the price of the home.
Mr. Paul then went on to say the imputed fee was actually closer to $16,000 or more, yet repeated those future residents would pay no tapping fee to the authority.
He said Toll Bros was footing the bill for the sewer lines and pump station at the development without reimbursement from the township.
(Nor should they be.)
What will be reimbursed is a portion of the project that builds a system for the Route 1 corridor and the village of Chadds Ford. That project extends sewer lines from Rote 202 to Creek Road and includes a sewage treatment plant at Turner's Mill.
The township will reimburse Toll a portion of that, and that is where logic is Mr. Linsen's side, based on information that was given to him.
The reimbursement percentage is 77.3 percent of the cost. What is interesting to note is that percentage is the same as that estimated for capacity of the treatment plant.
The plant's design can handle 528 connections. Of that, 120 connections, or 22.7 percent of capacity, are from the new development, leaving 77.3 percent, or 408 connections for the corridor and village.
Is it involved? Yes. But it's not complicated.
Even when speaking the truth, sometimes messages get lost in excess verbiage. But as with the Gordian Knot, sometimes one just has to cut through the blockage. Just keep it simple.