Verner column: Lost in the jungles of annexation
By Chris Verner
Salisbury officials can talk all they want about the numbers not adding up, but as a skeptical, truth-seeking journalist, I know the real reason they dropped the N.C. 150 annexation plan like it was a radioactive turnip from the Post’s garden game.
They suddenly realized that I live in the proposed annexation area. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
City Manager Dave Treme: “We went through the proposal once more, and I’m afraid I have some very bad news.”
Councilman Mark Lewis: “Please don’t tell me we accidentally cut down another of Jim Sides’ trees. The city will be bankrupt.”
Treme: “It’s worse than that, I’m afraid.”
Lewis: “Running the water and sewer will cost more than your next raise?”
Treme: “Even worse than that. Verner lives in the annexation area.”
Mayor Susan Kluttz: “This is a disaster. Why didn’t somebody warn us? I’ve heard about his yard. Isn’t that where the surveying crew disappeared two weeks ago?”
Treme: “Yes ó right after they sent out an urgent call for backup bush-hogs and a round of napalm. The last message from them said they’d just stumbled across a yeti footprint and were under attack from a horde of aboriginal pygmy headhunters.”
Kluttz: “This is horrendous. Municipal property values will never recover if we bring him into the city. I’ve heard he drives old cars that leak a lot of oil. Any chance we could have his place declared a Superfund site and omit it from the plan?”
Treme: “I checked. They spent all the Superfund money cleaning up spilled beer from the last SmokeOut. And that would still leave us with the mailbox issue.”
Councilman Paul Woodson: “The mailbox issue?”
Treme pulls out a photograph and passes it around the table. Kluttz gasps. Lewis hurriedly gulps water. Woodson shakes his head in disgust.
Councilman Pete Kennedy: “Isn’t there a law against that?”
Treme: “Well, you know how loose county zoning codes are.”
OK, time out here. Let me explain about the mailbox. Admittedly, it has seen better days, and those days probably occurred somewhere back in the mid-Mesozoic Era, when postal carriers rode pterodactyls and stamps were only 3 cents. I’m not suggesting the mailbox might be a bit outdated, but our address appears to have been etched out with a piece of flint, and the support post is the petrified leg bone of a wooly mammoth.
When we first moved in, my wife suggested that we get a shiny new mailbox, and initially I had every good intention of doing so. But, what with all the energy I had to expend trying to photograph the yeti and fighting off the pygmy headhunters who spring out of their huts under the somewhat overgrown foundation shrubbery at the slightest provocation, I never got around to it.
Then, at some point, I realized I had grown attached to the mailbox’s grimy white exterior and rusty bolts. I take aesthetic pleasure in the random splotches of mildew and the holes that were left when the little red flag broke off.
The mailbox reminds me of some of my favorite T-shirts ó the ones my wife keeps threatening to donate to science. And frankly, I think it’s utter paranoia that compels the postal carrier to don a surgical mask and latex gloves whenever she makes a delivery at our house.
Besides, that mailbox has saved me a lot of money over the years. I have been assured by my accountant, Tony “TurboTax this!” Gambino, that if your name does not appear on your mailbox, you are not required to file a federal income tax return. I’m confident I can trust Tony’s advice in this matter because he has over 40 years’ experience with the federal system (not including probationary periods) and has handled tax returns and finance disclosure forms for some of our finest public servants, including Jim Black, Thomas Wright, Meg Scott Phipps and Spiro Agnew.
Meanwhile, back at council chambers:
Kluttz: “Well, I don’t think this leaves us any choice. We’re going to have to call off the plan. Maybe we should see if Mooresville wants to annex that area.”
Lewis: “I concur. I said I would go where the numbers lead me, but if the trail cuts through Verner’s yard, that’s a suicide mission for sure.”
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Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post. He wants to assure any IRS agents who may be reading this that the check really is in the mail ó providing the postal carrier picked it up.