My brain’s been doing arithmetic lately.  And it’s not happy.  How do you calculate true costs?

A small business owner normally sends the company’s year end financial statements to a CPA, who does the tax return.  This year the owner decided it’d be cheaper to prepare the tax return and just give that to the CPA to check.  The owner discovered a couple of the CPA’s errors from prior years. They didn’t affect the tax due since the company had a loss, but the errors  understated that loss, which can be carried forward to another year to reduce the tax due then.  So the owner called the CPA to make sure they were, in fact, errors.  The CPA’s errors. They were.  And ya know, that CPA sent the owner a bill for the time spent explaining how to correct and book that error.  Nearly a hundred bucks, plus the owner’s time finding it, checking and re-checking, and correcting the CPA’s errors.  The cost– for which the business owner got billed nearly a hundred bucks–plus the owner’s time spent on the problem, came to several hundred dollars.  The owner was wondering if next year it would be necessary to consult the CPA about how to book the expense for the time it took to correct the CPA’s errors.  And how much would the CPA would charge for that?  What did/will it all cost?

An elderly man I know had problems with his teeth.  Turned out they’d gotten abscessed and he got talked into having all the upper teeth pulled and getting a plate.  He already had a half a lower plate. Somehow in the process of getting his teeth fixed that got broken, and the upper plate just doesn’t fit.  So he’s out eight thousand bucks for dental work and now he doesn’t have any teeth where before at least he had a lower plate and some other teeth.  What’s the true cost there?

I know of a historic property, a large hotel, that got listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).  It’s in a very wealthy community that pays a consultant to do the reports to get historic properties designated as local Landmarks.  And that consultant is supposedly a professional historic preservationist, with a PhD which means, really, really  professional.  But the hotel hired a different consultant to do the application to the state–to get the state then to nominate it for the NRHP.

Once the hotel was NRHP listed it became eligible for tax incentives.  The hotel is having some expensive renovations done, and the tax incentives altogether come to more than three quarters of a million dollars, if renovations are done according to something called the Secretary of the Interior’s historic preservation guidelines.  The hotel’s owners hired an expensive architect who specializes in historic property renovation.  And the second consultant is going to do the applications for the tax benefits–one local, one federal (but that goes to the state office for review).

Now the second consultant discovered that the first consultant–the really, really professional PhD historic preservationist–had made up a bunch of the stuff in the local Landmark report.  The second consultant also discovered that the NRHP listing had the architect’s name wrong, as had the local Landmark report.  So a request was made that a copy of the entire application, from the state’s historic preservation office to the NRHP folks, be sent to the second consultant.  And the second consultant reviewed that, and learned that the state’s report had deleted facts, which had source references, and replaced them with made up stuff–most of which agreed with the made up stuff in the local Landmark designation report.  But the state office went even further.  It not only made its report to the NRHP folks agree with the local PhD really, really professional historic preservationist, another PhD really, really professional historic preservationists in the state office made up a bogus survey too, even though there’s an official one in the county’s official record books.

The hotel has six levels, but the Landmark report said four, and the new “survey” shows four.  Four, six, what’s the difference?  And where there are actually shops, the state’s PhD historic preservationist replaced them with a made up extension of an existing  loggia.  And an office building became a bank, and…well, you get the picture.  But they kept most of the second consultant’s original bibliography, so now some of the source references don’t agree with the made up stuff.  And all of it’s now in the official records of the State of Florida and the National records of historic properties as well.  Imagine the hotel owners’ surprise when they discover that, according to official records, the shops they patronize daily officially don’t exist.  Or that they have a dance hall in their hotel–that’s not on the survey but it is in the altered application that went to the NRHP folks.  That’s gonna be news to the hotel owners for sure.   A dance hall.  Hmmm, does the zoning permit that?

Now the owners of the historic property, if they want to access the tax benefits have to submit applications.  But in order to do that the second consultant, whose name was left on the doctored application report from the state to the NRHP office, insists that the errors have to be corrected.  That consultant wonders if the Landmark report that seems to include plagiarized material, by being quoted in the state’s application that’s now in the National records, with the second consultant’s name on it, makes all of them plagiarists or only the first (really, really) professional PhD historic preservationist, while everyone else simply became victims of the plagiarizer.  Keep in mind, everyone except the second consultant was paid with local or state tax dollars.  Paid to write historical fiction, so to speak.  Reports from the state historic preservation office, that are supposed to be factual–that’s what’s called historical fiction.  Florida fiction.

And it’s not going to be easy or quick to get those records corrected. There’s going to be taxpayer paid staff time involved in pretending there’s no problem, then resisting the fix and then more staff time–taxpayer funded–implementing the fixes.  The hotel’s owners are going to have to pay to have someone prepare an airtight document which unequivocally proves that the local, state and national records are a bunch of hooey to get them corrected.  Which they need to prove because, if they get those tax benefits and the IRS should happen to check and find uncorrected public records, upon which the tax benefits are based, are a bunch of hooey, then they’d have to pay back those tax benefits.

All of which is going to be compounded by the fact that, once the records are corrected, guess who will be reviewing the applications for the tax benefits, and deciding if the renovations will meet the Secretary of the Interior’s historic preservation guidelines?  Correctamundo!  The very people who made up the hooey in the first place.  Who are not going to be happy at having been revealed to be cheating, lazy incompetents who falsified public records.

What d’ya suppose that’s cost already and what will be the final tab?  Who knows?  But I’m guessing it’s gonna be a knock down, drag out fight by the hooey fabricators who will probably want to salvage their really, really professional reputations.

There is an upside though.  In a community which has problems over its noise ordinance, the imaginary dance hall isn’t gonna cause any complaints from residents about noise.  Could there be a zoning problem with having a fictional dance hall if that’s not a permitted commercial use though?  I wonder what that might cost?

Is it just me, or is this nuts?


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