Some days, it seems, even the government has a bad day.
As a case in point, either the tax assessor or tax collector for Washington County really had an 'uh-oh' moment recently. It seems the return envelope "window" does not match the blue form from the tax collector's office. So, if taxpayers try to use the envelopes provided at taxpayer expense -- well, they won't work with the U.S. Postal Service. Taxes are due Oct. 10, and state law requires a return reply envelope with each tax statement.
So, the printed form and the envelopes don't match up. Not a big deal, you say, until (pause here for dramatic effect) taxpayers have to use their own envelopes to mail in their taxes.
Not a big deal? The 100,000-plus envelopes still cost taxpayers money. The wrong envelopes cannot be used for mail service, so this was just wasted taxpayer dollars. You, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, paid for something that won't work, and it is wrong!
The officials at the Washington County Tax Collectors office and the Washington County Tax Assessor's office, of course, will tell you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, you can just "drop off" your taxes -- with the form and your check enclosed at the convenient "drop boxes" or "in-person" if you are coming to the courthouse. Or you can pay by phone, using your credit, debit or other money cards.
But, still, the oddly windowed envelopes were a useless mistake. You can try to figure out what to do with them.
It just makes my head hurt that the officeholders, who draw upwards of $85,000 in taxpayer salaries, and their staff members, who are also well compensated, did not figure this out prior to mailing out these envelopes.
Did someone take his or her eye off the ball? Will someone step up and say, "Hey, I screwed up?" I doubt it.
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On the state level, Arkansas continues to be slow in rolling out the rental assistance funds from Uncle Sam.
A whopping $173 million was deposited from the federal government within Arkansas' bank and depository by May of 2021 for Arkansans, to aid them when falling behind in their rents due to the pandemic.
As of last week, only $9.8 million of those funds on deposit with the state had been processed and sent out to those filing paperwork?
Not impressive! Not impressive at all!
So unimpressive was the rollout at South Carolina, a congressman called a press conference and called out four states -- one of them, Arkansas -- on the slow rollout.
Arkansas, it seems, can lose that money and will have to return it to the feds if the program is not pushed along.
Gov. Hutchinson, calling his own press conference, said we need to hurry things up. So, he thinks maybe it's best just to let the tenants file paperwork if the landlords don't want to help release these funds. What a crazy idea! The tenants -- who have not worked and have fallen behind on their rent and bills -- can file paperwork for rental assistance funds, and then their landlords -- who have not filed any paperwork -- will be paid? How will the landlord know the tenant filed for and received the money if the landlord doesn't file paperwork?
Sometimes I have to wonder if we have an entire set of politicians who (1) have no business sense, (2) have never paid rent, or (3) really do not understand the working class.
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And lastly, on the topic, our state keeps wanting everything online -- and I understand that -- but it seems, in a state with less than adequate broadband in the mostly rural areas of Arkansas, asking people, especially poor working people, to log on to the AR.gov and slash, slash, dot program to see if they can navigate the state's complete labyrinth is a little too much.
Heck, Washington County can't even get the return tax envelopes to match the forms to go through the mail.
-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.