I am an elected representative of the government. Honest.
Some of you know the dirty truth. I’m not as innocent as you think. Oh no. Not at all. Don’t be fooled by all this bloggin’ tomfoolery.
I am really a politician. A representative of local government. A–yes, here goes–tax collector. A township treasurer.
And it’s time to collect your money. Again.
Spreading those taxes all over the kitchen table. Don't tip over the salt or pepper, please.
Oh my, I’ve been a township treasurer more than a quarter century. A quarter century, can you imagine? ‘Way back in 1984 I ran for office for the first time. The only time with opposition.
I was a young whipper-snapper who only wanted a way to make a living in one of the tiniest townships (smack dab in the middle of the Upper Peninsula woods) and my primary skill was journalism. Since The Husband had the only journalism job in the county, I looked elsewhere.
Elsewhere turned out to be with numbers. I discovered a great love for adding numbers, subtracting numbers, turning numbers upside down and shaking them (to see if there were more numbers hidden inside) and budgeting. How I loved budgeting! It ’twas like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle = A. The expenses = B, C and D. The revenue = F. And you had to make all the letters come together in a pleasing alphabetical soup that would satisfy the township constituents.
I am still enjoying playing with numbers all these years later. I have two part-time jobs (1) as the aforementioned township treasurer, which involves bi-annual tax collecting along with other responsibilities and (2) as the business manager of our tiny elementary school.
This here blog is the only place where my journalistic urges get to run wild away from the leashes of numbers. (That’s why I’m in love with blogging, you know.)
1,517 summer property tax parcels. You property owners can expect your bills by the weekend.
Where was I?
Ahh, yes, trying to explain why I am a tax collector and sinner.
It started this way.
Years ago people would ask what I did. The smart-mouthed part of me sometimes took control and explained, “Oh, I am a tax collector and sinner!” You know Jesus, don’t you? He’s the one who lumped the tax collectors in with the sinners. Like tax collectors are the worst of the worst. (OK, maybe they were in biblical times. Maybe some even are today. But I send positive wishes and sometimes prayers out along with the taxes–honest! Bless these taxpayers, make they be able to afford their homes and, may they be fully blessed…Amen.)
It’s always funny telling an anti-tax or anti-government person about my job, especially if they don’t know about this for years of our acquaintance. I remember one friend–a spiritual guy who hated the government and tax collectors. I listened sympathetically and finally shared the Awful Truth. “Umm, Paul,” I said, “Guess what? I’m a tax collector.”
He was silent for maybe two minutes. He finally gasped, “Wha….?” “Yes,” I said, ” I collect property taxes for our small township. And I sometimes pray for the tax payers.” He remained silent for another two minutes.
“I guess you’ve taught me not to label people,” he finally said.
As for that being-a-sinner part: the Christians always nodded their heads understandably and said, “Of course you’re a sinner!” meaning that, of course, we’re all sinners. The non-Christians always shook their heads vigorously and said, “Of COURSE you’re NOT a sinner!”
I have no idea about the reliability of this Internet source, but here is a discussion about the phrase “Tax Collectors and Sinners”. Just so you can ponder what Jesus meant when he used that particular phrase.
Anyway, sinner or no, I hope all of you will think kindly of your tax collector or township treasurer when she or he sends you a property tax bill in the next few days. Don’t think of her as an evil money-grubbing government person wanting to suck you dry of all your life-long funds.
Those same treasurers are paying property taxes themselves. They’re just doing their jobs. Maybe they are sending you good will and prayers and blessings along with your bill. Maybe, just maybe, things aren’t always what they seem…
P.S. And guess what! I have NEVER been yelled at by a taxpayer yet. For some reason the taxpayers seem to intuit that it’s not personal with me. I don’t set the rates or have anything to do with the amount billed–that’s the assessor’s job. The delinquent taxes go to the county–I don’t even have to collect them. It really is a good job for a sinner to have. LOL! Just kidding! Sort of!