The Roanoke Times got around to the Pizza Inn sales tax story Friday but made an interesting error in telling it.
According to The Times, the story emerged in “The Floyd Free Press.”
The Floyd Free what? Sounds like one of those alternative weeklies that one finds in big cities. OK, we also have the Detroit Free Press, among others out there.
But the Floyd Free Press?
The Times had some updates on the story that were not available to the Press at deadline this week and more details will be published in a story that I’m working on for next week.
Another detail in the Times story that was wrong stated that the overcharging problem may have resulted from reprogramming the Pizza Inns for a Floyd County sales tax increase that went into effect on July 1, 2012.
The .3 percent sales tax increase was a state increase, not one from Floyd County. Floyd got none of the increase from anyone.
But my story reported that Pizza Inn owner and Floyd County Supervisor Chairman Case Clinger was OK with the state because he paid the required 5.3 percent state tax.
Another spokesman says something else. Joel Davison, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Taxation, told the Times that “all sales taxes collected must be turned over to the state. It would be illegal for a business owner to charge additional sales tax above the required rate and keep the extra money.”
Clinger says he isn’t planning to keep the money and has borrowed funds from a bank to pay it back. An offer to pay it directly to the town of Floyd was rejected and he’s still looking for a recipient.
In the meantime, here’s what The Times reported about Floyd’s “Free Press”:
Pizza Inn’s discrepancy was first brought to light by the Floyd Free Press, which alerted Clinger to the problem when a reporter began asking questions on Monday.
That’s funny. What makes it even funnier is The Floyd Press is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s BH Media Group, which also owns The Roanoke Times.
And while both the Press and the Times hope to function in a society where the “press” is free, a copy of either newspaper is not free. You pay for it.
Lord, you’d think papers under the same ownership would know each others actual names, especially when it comes to newspapers in neighboring counties.
But such things happen. I’m make my share of errors in print over the years and some of them happened at The Roanoke Times when I worked there as a reporter from 1965-69.
The Times is also the newspaper that startled readers one Christmas morning with this headline about an auto accident that killed three people in Wise County: “Three Wise Men Die in Crash.”
Such is life in the rapidly dwindling world of newspapers.
Since the excess tax was incorrectly collected from Pizza Inn’s customers, why not give it back to the customers. All he needs to do is offer a 5% discount off all pizzas sold until the total is paid back. This way the money goes back to the very people who overpaid.
Let me see if i’m following his explanation. He was able to identify that an employee was stealing from him and even determine an amount that was taken. However, in digging through all those records to come up with an amount he overlooks the extra tax he is pocketing? Sounds an awful lot like the pot calling the kettle black. I remember Mr. Clinger’s attacks on the school system over the years. Now he expects the public( he has been overcharging ) to believe that at least 2 accountants plus himself overlooked this small detail while examining the embezzlement from his restaurant and filing his taxes? I don’t buy it. If he has an ounce of the integrity he has been claiming he has then he will resign his post. Even if what he claims is true he has certainly proven himself incapable of managing the County budget much less the school’s.