Town Hall in Monte San Savino
In early December right before we left to go to Nice I received on 2 separate days, 2 pieces of mail about trash. One was a bill for 2014, even though I had already paid the 2014 bill and the other was a note saying that I had overpaid for 2013 and that a large refund was waiting for me. Naturally, I was confused. One piece of mail wanted money and one piece of mail said they owed me money. I turned to our good friend John, who knows about real estate, property, taxes, all kinds of things like that for help. He and an Italian friend reviewed the letters and were as puzzled as I was. John offered to go with me to the Monte San Savino town hall to figure it out.
On December 30, (the bill being due on December 31) I met him at town hall and we chatted with the nice lady in charge of billing/finance. The bill I received was essentially an adjustment of rates for 2014. This is what I understood, that at the beginning of 2014 they didn’t really know the rate that should be charged (being part of the larger European Union has something to do with this rather than being inept) so they made a best guess and sent out bills. Now that 2014 was ending they had a firm idea of what the rate should be so another bill was sent to make up the difference between the two. Okay, I accepted that. But why was I the only one amongst our circle of friends in Monte San Savino who got another bill?
Well, it seems that the company that handles billing (not this nice lady) uses a delivery service in conjunction with the post office or maybe on their own. And that the delivery service is not the best. Now, here’s the good part. The nice lady says it is still the responsibility of every home owner whether they receive the bill or not to pay it. Now, my friend John, is very diplomatic, very calm. He took a step back and then projected himself forward (like he was gonna throw a punch) and in Italian more or less said “WHAT!!!!!! You mean if I don’t get any notice I still have to pay something I have no idea about????” Of course I was giggling, because the exasperation and expression on his face was priceless. And I am sure that he meant the (for him) over the top reaction to be comic. And the nice lady is giggling and then John laughs. And she says well, of course that is the law but… and there is a hand waggle meaning ‘we don’t worry too much’.
So now we have it settled and I know what I need to do. Pay the bill and scoot down to the bank (which conveniently happens to be our bank) and pick up my refund check which is waiting there for me. John and I did not even discuss the refund with the nice lady, we just say our goodbyes and leave. I drive back down to the ‘suburban’ post office to pay the bill because the nice lady can not accept my money for the bill. Nooooo I have to go to the post office or a bank to pay the bill. So I pay the bill at the post office, walk next door to my bank, present the letter, ask for my refund. Nope! It has been over 2 weeks since the refund was offered, so they have cut a check and sent it back up to town hall. So I drive back to town hall. Back to the same lady. Show her my letter, she gives me the check. We have another laugh about my confusion over receiving a bill and a refund and I am off.
On the way out I notice that the official meeting room is open so I peeked in to take a few pictures. I am sure there are some local government meeting rooms in the US that are this nice, maybe?
A week or so later, John discovers his bill that has been sitting outside his gate, in the weather, under a rock. So he paid it too.
I think that anywhere in the world, being an expat is not all that bad as long as the home town folks that you interact with are willing to be patient and understanding and as long as the expat does not go off on a long lecture/rant about how confusing and inefficient some process is. Smiling and sharing a laugh helps too.