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.