Thursday, July 25, 2013

Coming In On Chapter 9

In the FUNNIEST STORY YET about the City of Detroit's impending Chapter 9 bankruptcy, National Public Radio has been out interviewing Detroiters who have begged, pleaded and LANGUISHED IN VAIN hoping that the city will come around and accept their tax money.  Detroit's spotty tax collection is definitely not news at this point, but the problem has always been framed (at least in the articles I've read) as tax evasion by citizens and a bureaucracy that doesn't follow through reliably.  It never occurred to me that there might be hundreds or thousands of people trying as hard as they can to pay their tax bills, only to find the pertinent offices closed.  Other people never see a tax bill but vaguely know they must owe SOMETHING.  When they call to ask about it, ALL THEY HEAR IS CRICKETS CHIRPING. 

A city official said that they called in a collection agency at one point to collect some of these missing revenues, expecting about 3 million dollars.  They were surprised to get 7 million.  I'm surprised, too.  Whoever heard of a collection agency getting more than twice as much as the customer was hoping for?  I suspect the reason they did so well is that, unlike the City of Detroit, the collection agents MADE THEMSELVES AVAILABLE TO ACCEPT PAYMENTS THAT THE TAXPAYERS WERE EAGERLY WAITING TO PROVIDE.

A clerk in an unrelated office in the City-County Building complained on the radio this morning that people are leaving their tax money with her, because the tax office is closed whenever they go there trying to pay up.

One man they interviewed, who is attempting to get his city taxes paid despite having been out of work for several YEARS, pointed out that he's not sure the effort is worth it, because there have been no city services for so long.  "Water, tree removal, police, fire department," he said -- you could almost hear him shrug over the car radio.  " this city, you're on your own."


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