A Sign of the Times OR a TAXing Dilema?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013 by Kevin W. Reszel

Now that the county property taxes second installment due date has come and gone ... let’s review the use of outdoor advertising/signage as a property tax collection reminder.

I own a small business and collecting fees for my services goes with the territory.  Like many small business owners and entrepreneurs in the services industry:

> We advertise (or iDEAVERTISE) our services to prospects.

> We sell and hopefully win new business.

> We provide remarkable services for a fair fee.


> We collect said fees upon completion of our work.

For me, sending an invoice via email and snail mail is the iDEAl method of notifying my clients when attempting to collect fees for services rendered.  For others, snail mail, financial software or even web-based financial programs that automatically issue invoices ‘fills the bill’ from an accounts payables/billables standpoint.  

Since starting my business some 9-years ago and having worked in the advertising, marketing and communications space for going on 30-years, I can safely say that I have never once entertained the iDEA of using outdoor signage as a method of alerting/reminding clients of pending invoices and/or their financial obligation to pay for services rendered.  ;-)  Why?  Because in my mind, placing a large banner in a high visibility public place simply to remind individuals of a bill due date is insulting let alone A BAD iDEA AND BUSINESS PRACTICE!  Really?  Our county believes taxpayers NEED a property tax payment reminder in the form of a large banner installed at a well-traveled in-town intersection?  It’s not like they didn’t send their fair-share of snail mail communications well in advance of the actual property tax bill due date, right?  The cost to produce and send those snail mail communications wasn’t enough?  I guess I’ve answered my own question since earlier this week I found myself staring at what is by most standards, a very large outdoor banner reminding taxpayers of their financial obligation to pay for county services rendered!

Not sure about other taxpayers, but the very sight of a banner like this begs a question or two ... or thirteen.  Questions like:  

Q.  How much time was spent on the iDEA to post these banners?

Q.  How much did the banners cost? 

Q.  At the time of banner purchase, did the county pay sales tax? ;-)

Q.  Who pays to have the banners printed?   

Q.  Who pays for the labor to put the banners up?  

Q.  Who pays for the labor to take the banners down?  

Q.  Are these banners a good use of taxpayer dollars?

Q.  Why a red, white and blue banner color palette?  Subliminal or intentional patriotism? 

Q.  Why the need for another promotional vehicle to further the current snail direct mail campaign which already includes ‘our bill’ and due dates?  Is the current snail direct mail campaign not producing the Return On Investment (ROI) the county had hoped for?

Q.  In 2014, will we begin receiving reminders via Facebook and Twitter?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of strategic and tactical social media communications.  I’m just not sure how many of us will be able to summon the strength to ‘LIKE’ or ‘FOLLOW’ a tax-oriented Facebook or Twitter page.

Q.  Is the county entertaining the iDEA of promoting Foursquare check-ins for those taxpayers making their tax payments onsite?  I can see it now ... “Hey fellow taxpayers!  At the assessor’s office paying my property taxes ;-)!!  Tip for those coming down, FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE prior to stepping through the door.”  

Q.  Are we going to begin seeing a flood of Instagram pics and Twitter Vine videos from the county, showing us how to write our property tax check, place in an envelope, apply a stamp and place the envelope in a town mail box?

Q.  Is this new out-of-the-box reminder signage a trend?  Hope not!  I really don’t want to begin seeing banners in town reminding me:

> My Kids School Registration Fees Are Due.

> My annual Park District Health Club Membership Fee Is Due.

> My Traffic Court Date Regarding a Parking Ticket Is Next Month.

> I Have Two Books Overdue at The Library.

> My Annual Prostate Exam Results And Bill Are Now Ready For Review and Payment.

If this is a trend or ‘SIGN OF THE TIMES’, let me know where I can SIGN UP to OPT OUT.