“Four out of three people struggle with math.”
— Jack Handey
Friends, I know I'm not the smartest kid in class. In fact, the closet I've ever come to a compliment regarding my intellect is when someone said ”Way to go, genius!” after I tried to replace a light fixture and almost electrocuted myself.
But that doesn't mean I'm stupid, either. Yet when I received my city tax bill in the mail this week, I did some serious head-scratching. Now I’m not about to get long-winded with my thoughts regarding taxes and how everything in this modern world seems to result in some sort of surcharge. I’ll save that for a future column. My issue in paying this particular bill is with the idea of the assessment.
Merriam-Webster defines assessment as “the action or an instance of making a judgment about something and the appraisal thereof.” Don’t get me wrong, I honestly love the English language, but from time to time I like to provide my own meanings, and in this case it goes like this: Assessment; the governmental act of providing “sticker shock” long after you've already made the purchase.
How can a house be assessed at $70,000 if no one in their right mind would ever pay more than $30,000? Am I living over a diamond mine I haven't been made aware of? Yeah, my house sparkles, but that's only because I've been using Pledge. Imagine buying a used Corolla but having to pay the tax on it as if it was a brand-new Mercedes Benz. You’d walk away from that bargaining table pretty quickly, and so would I. Unfortunately, my house isn’t one of those mobile kinds, so I can’t exactly pick it up and put it somewhere the city won’t find it.
It's almost as though those in charge get to be all footloose financially, but if I'm the one footing the bill, I don't want them being fancy-free, as well. And this volley of values only works in government. Seriously, out of all my friends trying desperately to find me a date never once have they described someone as a "solid 4" but then she’s assessed as a 10. I know that sounds shallow and mean, but we all know that no amount of “personality” is ever going to turn Honey Boo Boo into Bo Derek will it?
Seriously though, when it does come time to sell maybe I'll act like an auctioneer, and since I'll be looking for the highest bidder, I'll expect the city to pick up the check. After all, wasn't it they who turned my home into a castle? If they balk saying they aren't in the market to buy, then perhaps they shouldn't be the ones jacking up the bidding. I know that sounds crazy but it's no crazier than paying the price for a Porsche and only getting to drive a Pinto. Or perhaps I'm just not smart enough to understand.
Auburn native Bradley Molloy’s column appears here each Sunday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org