For those that do not know it yet, I work at a newspaper. Actually a group of news papers, located in the Central Kentucky area. No, I am not a reporter or anything so glamorous. I am in the back room working the computer infrastructure that helps both the web and print versions get out there to you all, the public. As one of the perks, I get the current edition of the days local paper laid on my desk shortly after it comes off the presses.
Today, I was very dismayed to see on the front page to different articles with headlines that read “Danville may be forced to repay thousands” & “Danville pays $21,000 in IRS penalties.” Some of you may already have guessed or known, the chief location of where I work is the Advocate Messenger. Why do I care some of you may be wondering, as I live in Wilmore currently and most recently in Burgin, neither of which are in Boyle county, much less the city of Danville.
Simply put I pay taxes to the fine city of Danville. Or rather, the fine city of Danville deducts a payroll tax from my check every pay-day before I ever even see the money myself. Granted, the near $200 at just shy of the mid year point for the yearly to date amount doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, the mismanagement of tax payers funds really makes me feel like I am being jerked around.
In the first instance, the city passed an ordinance shortly after the Public Service Commission (PSC – the folks who regulate public services such as water, gas, sewer, electric at the state level) allowed increases on water to end consumers without oversight. The ordinance did just that, building in a cost of living increase automatically. The city took it one step to far though, and passed the additional fees on to other water districts that it serves. Note other water districts are not end consumers, but rather wholesale customers that are also regulated by the PSC. When one of the districts tried for a rate increase the PSC said “No,” siting lack of evidence of a rate increase to them from the Danville City supplier.
The city is now arguing that they don’t feel they are wrong and the over $36,000 that may be refunded to just one of the other companies is not correct based on gray areas in the rules. The city has two other locations the at the PSC added to the complaint (for once being a watchdog for the downstream consumer, even if wholesale) like it should be. Additionally Danville could face fines for the incidents in excess of $20,000. Sorry city of Danville, but the rules are very clear and you can’t pass your own ordinance that flies against state law. Just ask California how that works with drugs and federal laws. The city’s response, “We have to understand what the PSC wants us to do…” Sorry, every judge I have seen clearly states failure to understand the law, of even total ignorance of a law not existing, does not excuse one from being responsible for adhering to said law.
The second instance is in regards to payroll taxes from the City of Danville not being filed correctly/timely with the IRS, again as mandated by law. This has occurred not once, but at least four times, possibly five if I follow the article correctly. The amounts were small and penalties in question according to city officials again so insignificant that no one bothered to include the previous instances in public audit documents. I personally think that if the city feels like a total of $21,000 is so small an amount as to not need to be reported in the audit then they can just give me my even smaller amount of over $400 that they will collect by years end back. That would make a dent in my increases on fuel and food to almost the same effect as the stimulus check I am still waiting. Add to that it goes back to 2005 and I am up by a total of $1200, but still nothing compared to $21,000.
What really irks me about this is that I don’t feel like I have any real recourse against the officials of are railroading over such things and mishandling the funds in such a bad way. While I work in Danville, I live elsewhere, and hence I have not voting right in regards to the folks who are literally throwing this money away. Worse yet, in the first case, they are seemingly going to spend man hours (translate to more tax dollars at work) fighting the case instead of just accepting they are wrong.
With officials like this representing this fair city who needs worse characters that are on the wrong side of the law around?