Paul Turner: How many cows will it take to pay my property taxes?

April 7, 2019 GMT

My wife and I went to the courthouse to pay our property taxes.

It’s not the first time we have done this in person. I wouldn’t say I don’t trust the mail. But I prefer to be sure. Other options, paying online via credit card for instance, simply don’t appeal to me. At least not for this particular transaction.

In this instance, I prefer the stand and deliver approach. Well, once we’ve passed through security that is.

After we had completed our business, we walked across the street for a late breakfast. While at the restaurant, we bumped into a friend who was working on his laptop. We told him where we had been. He found the idea of actually going to the courthouse to pay our property taxes fascinating.

He said it put him in mind of an old-timey farmer coming to town with a cow in tow, which the farmer would present as payment of his taxes. Our friend added the whole thing seemed downright patriotic.

That got me thinking. My wife and I do not own any cows, though one neighbor has some chickens. But if Spokane County allowed for payment of property taxes through some sort of barter system, what could we offer?

I have to admit, nothing plausible came to mind. The older of our two cars is a bought-new 1987 Honda that has significant sentimental importance but it wouldn’t have a dollar value that would cover our annual tax bill. And I long ago got rid of a 20-year Sports Illustrated collection begun shortly before the first Super Bowl.

Baseball cards? Gone. Comic books? Gone. Hank Aaron autograph from 1969? Can’t find it. Ticket stub from the first Seattle Pilots home game? I sent that back to the reader who gave it to me, advising him he might want to hang on to it.

Some of our various vocational skills might be worth something. Though in the case of my wife and me, it could be tough to put an accurate price-per-hour sticker on certain liberal arts labors. Be simpler if we had some livestock to hand over.

How about you? What could you offer that might be the equivalent in dollar value to your property tax bill?

Of course, just how the county would go about divvying up your vinyl albums collection to the various governmental entities clamoring for a slice of your tax obligation is an open question.

“OK, schools, you get the Beatles LPs. Fire districts, you get this New Age stuff. And libraries, these Bob Newhart records are all yours.”

But I figure that’s their problem. If you bring the cow to the courthouse, it’s up to them to divide it up.

Weather and the new normal

Every spring we get some rain, and every spring a few benighted souls complain about it.

Astonishing, I know. But some of us don’t always see the big picture.

The idea of someone in Eastern Washington not welcoming moderate rainfall is difficult to comprehend. But I think all that is about to change.

If we have another wildfire season like last year’s, I suspect praying for rain will become universal in the Spokane area.

Never mind if the rain interferes with your golf game. Never mind if it puts a damper on your picnic.

Even those who used to complain about it will adopt a new mantra: Bring it on.

Those of us who enjoy breathing won’t say a word against rain. We will welcome it with open arms and invite it to visit us throughout the usually parched Inland Northwest summer.

And as for those who don’t root for a white Christmas, well, to quote a line from Tootsie: “I begged you to get some therapy.”

End note

If you have been trying to declutter your home, there is a good chance you have encountered one of the Spokane area agencies that accept used apparel, household goods and what-not.

Now, no reasonable person expects those front-line volunteers or minimum wage workers who physically receive the stuff to bow or genuflect before your grand beneficence. If your donated item helps someone in need, that’s great. You sincerely hope it does. But let’s face it. Those agencies are doing you a favor by taking these things off your hands.

Still, if what you are donating is good stuff, it’s nice to see some sort of recognition that the item you are hauling out of the trunk of your car isn’t junk. If it was, you would simply throw it away.

As I said, nobody owes you any special thanks for being middle class and getting rid of your clutter. But it sure is nice to hear, “Somebody could really use this.”

Because, chances are, that was your hope all along.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at srpaulturner@gmail.com.