Nov. 30th, 2005

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Tax statements to be mailed . . . sometime
by Denise Schoppe
Staff writer

The Marlin Democrat
November 30, 2005

Falls County property owners who have been watching their mail for their tax statements will have to wait a little longer according to Tax Assessor/Collector Kate Vande Veegaete.

"Bear with us," Vande Veegaete said. "We're doing our best."

Nonetheless, property owners and officials have begun asking questions. According to tax codes, tax statements are to be mailed by October 1 or "as soon thereafter as practicable." To date, no statements have arrived and numerous complaints have caught the attention of county commissioners.

"Ms. Vande Veegaete is an autonomously elected official and we can not run her office for her," County Judge Tom Sehon said, "but I have had many complaints and it is disturbing that she [closed] her office early [on Wednesday], a day that is not a county holiday. I plan to discuss this matter further with county attorney, Mike Dickson."

Vande Veegaete explained that the reasons why the statements have not yet been mailed are due to understaffing and they are doing two jobs at once.

"This is an extra job from our usual duties," she said. "We have to work on this while we take care of day-to-day business."

The tax assessor-collectors office handles vehicle tags, voter registration, and property tax collection on a daily basis. Vande Veegaete explained that in addition to this being an extra job, this year the statements have to be folded by hand, individually.

"This year's tax statements contain a five-year comparison that is state mandated, so people know if their taxes have gone up or down," she said. "This comparison of the last five years has to be matched by hand with each individual owner. We can't prefold anything; it has to be done one at a time. It's not what we want to do; its what the state says to do."

Vande Veegaete explained that she knows of the public's frustrations, and says they are working as fast as they can.

"Give us a little while and let us do our job," she said. "The phone calls and remarks that we get are not helping us get this done any faster."

Vande Veegaete said that the tax statements have come out late in past years, and that a late school bond hearing two years ago delayed the disbursement of statements into November or December. This year, she said, the preparation of the statements were delayed by the county tax rolls not being confirmed until August 22, almost a month later than usual.

Vande Veegaete could not give a projected date on when the statements would be out, but hoped it would be in the next couple of weeks.

The deadline to pay the taxes without penalty is January 31st.

Vande Veegaete encouraged anyone wishing to pay their taxes prior to the end of the year, for income tax purposes, etc., should come to the tax office, located on the second floor of the courthouse, to find out the amount of their bill and pay it in person. You may also call the office of the Tax Assessor/Collector at (254) 883-1436.

Judge Sehon also noted that it is hard to run a county when you rely heavily on the monies generated by taxes, and, when the statements don't go out you have no money coming in when it's needed the most.
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The forgotten soldiers of war

Nise's Notes
By Denise Schoppe

The Marlin Democrat
November 30, 2005

Earlier this month, we celebrated Veteran's Day. It was a day to remember those who have served in war -- many of whom gave the ultimate price for our freedom. These men and women deserve our thanks and respect every day, but there are those silent soldiers right here on our home soil that are often forgotten. These are the families of our soldiers.

My boyfriend is a musician who has spent the last week and a half in European countries bringing a little bit of home to our soldiers overseas. He's previously spent time in South Korea and Japan, but this most recent trip took him close to the heart of the current on-going unrest that thousands of our soldiers are being sent out to face head-on. I'm proud of him and all those with him for their going over there, and it is a no-brainer to encourage their travels in this "Operation Season's Greetings."

However, even as I've known he was as safe as he could be, and I've been fortunate to actually talk to him several times, there's been this underlying fear and stress that will continue until I know he's safely back at home.

It's these feelings that opened my eyes to those right here at home that deserve our admiration.

How dare I feel such concern when I know he'll be back soon, and I know he and his fellow bandmates are being protected by our Air Force? I can't even begin to claim to know the feelings that the spouses, children, parents, siblings and friends of our soldiers feel every day. At least I have an itinerary to follow, and I have a pretty good idea where my boyfriend is at any given time during this trip.

These loved ones of our military personnel don't have that luxury. They certainly don't have the luxury of knowing they're husband or wife will be home at night. They can't take a good grade to Mommy or Daddy. They can't share an important anniversary with their child. They can't share a round of beer during a good football game with their buddy.

These people, too, are making a huge sacrifice for our country. They see on the news about bombings, terrorism, and missile strikes. They know that someone so dear to their hearts could be there, and they know that person just might not come back home.

However, I may be stepping out of line, but I dare to say that a vast majority of those here at home feel a pride in their soldier who is over there fighting. Even as they want them to come home, they're also proud of them for being there.

They go through their days like normal. Most you would never know are members of this silent team of soldiers here at home. It takes someone very special to be the spouse, parent, child and/or sibling of a soldier. They are strong people... strong people that also deserve our thanks.

Thank you to all of you who wait here at home for your soldiers. Thank you for sacrificing memories, precious moments, and for handling emotions many could not handle. You are a lifeline and a string of sanity for all of those who serve and protect all of us.You are very much a part of what happens "over there."

Thank you to all of those who currently serve our country in this silent way. Thank you to all of you who have served in this capacity in the past as well. And to everyone who will be in these people's shoes... it is a thankless job. There is no Veteran's Families' Day. However, it is also one of the most highest importance.

Last week, we all celebrated Thanksgiving. The next four weeks we prepare for Christmas. It's the holiday season, a time of giving, hoping and loving. The forgotten soldiers of war give every day their loved one is away. And it is during this season that their sacrifice is most strongly felt. Please take the time to not only think of our soldiers, but remember their families as well. They need the love and support of all American's, too.


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