Sunday, February 22, 2009

     

 

 

 

 

  Stolen vehicles, rifles found in Seven Points
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Henderson County Sheriff Office investigators found several stolen vehicles, valued at about $15,000 last Monday.
Gilbert Olivarez III, also of Grand Prairie, was arrested at the Seven Points residence for theft up to $20,000 and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
Following a tip on Feb. 16, investigators obtained consent to search a property located on Robert Rd. in Hills Estates, coming off Country Line Road 4045, bordering Kaufman County.
It didn’t take long for officers to locate items reported stolen to the Dallas Police Department, a press release stated.
Items included a 2006 Kawasaki motorcycle, Chevy truck, a small all-terrain vehicle with the identification number removed, and two rifles.
After confirming the items as stolen, authorities took possession of them.
Olivarez was released on $30,000 in bonds.
 

New ECC budget calls for utility rate increase
Residential water and wastewater base rates to rise $1.50
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Residential customers of East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District will be paying more for water and sewer service starting Wednesday, April 1.
The increase of $1.50 on base rates of those on a 5/8 inch lines was necessary to meet the utility’s fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget, which begins April 1.
The base charge for water on residential lines of $14.76 will go up to $16.26.
The base charge on residential sewer lines will go from $22.46 to $23.96.
In addition, sewer charges per 1,000 gallons are going up by 15 cents, from $3.50 to $3.65 for all wastewater customers.
Wednesday, utility directors approved the rate increases along with the $4,769,100 budget.
Operating expenses will account for around $2,890,200.
The $1,878,900 balance will be divided to between servicing the utility’s debt, capital expenses and planned projects.
This year, the utility will make a payment of $1,465,000 in debt payments. Capital projects are allotted $391,808.
The remaining $22,092 are set aside for MEU expenses, related to new hookups, general manager Bill Goheen said.
The board estimates a very modest growth rate totaling $21,900, leaving a budget balance of just $192.
The budget includes a 3 percent raise for employees, however the general manager declined an increase in pay.
In other business, directors:
• discussed the finalization of the Prairie Creek Cove Channel Remediation Project with Velvin & Weeks engineer Chris Weeks.
A statement from Tarrant Regional Water District is still pending concerning the removal of silt.
A Feb. 26 deadline for response to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is looming, but Weeks said Tarrant Regional staff members and others involved are aware of the deadline.
• heard Weeks report that at some point in the distant future bacteriological testing might be required.
“I don’t see how that could be a problem with the (required) amount of chlorine currently being used,” Goheen said.
• approved the general manager’s goals and objectives for FY 2010, as presented.
• approved a payment of $795 to Walmart for the new North Waste Water Treatment Plant lab computer and $496.25 to Cohesive Automation for necessary programming.
• approved finance committee members to take necessary action on two CDs at Southside and Citizens banks due to mature March 4.
• approved the use of real property, located at the McKay intake lot 568, in Indian Harbor by the adjacent property owner.

BBB warns of tax scam schemes on consumers
Special to The Monitor
MABANK–The continuing downturn in the economy means that many cash-strapped Americans are anxiously looking forward to receiving a tax refund check from Uncle Sam.
During this tax season, Better Business Bureau advises taxpayers to be on the lookout for schemes and scams that plague families struggling to make ends meet.
Jobless claims in January reached the highest level since 1982 in the U.S., as more than 2.6 million jobs were cut in 2008.
With more families facing financial hardship, the promise of a tax refund is a welcome sight.
Unfortunately, some schemes tied to the tax season will leave consumers even worse off in these tough economic times. In a declining economy, a tax refund can provide much-needed cash for families enduring financial hardship.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes,” but consumers can also be certain that where there are taxes there will be tax scams.
BBB is advising people to be extremely wary of tax-related schemes that will cost them unnecessarily at a time when they can least afford it.
Beware tax reduction scams
Some companies claim that they can help consumers reduce the amount of money they owe in taxes or fines to the government.
These claims often sound too good to be true and TV ads might include endorsements from customers who state the company worked with the IRS on their behalf and was able to reduce the amount owed to pennies on the dollar.
Unfortunately, BBB has heard from consumers who paid thousands of dollars to such companies and were devastated to learn that the company didn’t keep its promise to reduce the amount owed, and, in some cases, never even contacted the IRS.
BBB advises
For consumers who have a tax debt with the IRS, BBB suggests first seeking the advice of an IRS enrolled agent, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or a tax attorney to determine if they qualify to file for an offer in compromise, or some other type of payment arrangement.
While the IRS will work directly with the taxpayer and negotiate an offer in compromise – which essentially reduces the taxpayer’s debt – the taxpayer has to demonstrate that he or she is in extreme financial hardship.
The website www.irs.gov , has more information on the IRS’s rules for an offer in compromise.
Another option is to create an installment plan for paying off the debt – which can be set up between the taxpayer and the IRS without the need to pay a company thousands of dollars. Each year, the IRS accepts about three million installment agreements.
If a taxpayer does decide to enlist outside help when dealing with the IRS, he or she should be wary of exaggerated claims and large upfront fees, and always check out the business’ report with BBB at www.bbb.org .
Just say no to refund anticipation loans
Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) are cash advances offered by a tax preparer based on a taxpayer’s anticipated refund.
Anyone who relies on a RAL is essentially paying to borrow their own money. Despite the fact that the loan is extremely low-risk for the tax preparer, the rates can be extremely high for the borrower.
The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) found that the effective annualized rate for a RAL can range from about 50 percent to nearly 500 percent.
BBB advises
The fastest and most secure way for consumers to get their refund is to file their taxes on-line and then allow a direct deposit of the refund into their bank account.
Taxpayers can have the money in as little as eight to 15 days. If a consumer absolutely must take out a RAL, BBB advises shopping around because rates and restrictions vary by preparer.
Don’t take the bait on phishing e-mails
While phishing e-mails strike consumers regardless of their financial status, in a tough economy, families literally cannot afford to fall victim to this common scam.
Phishing e-mails around tax time usually tell the recipient that there’s an issue with their refund, that they are being audited or that there is a problem preventing their taxes from being processed.
In most cases, the fraudulent e-mail will provide a hyperlink directing potential victims to a website set up by the scammers, where victims are asked for Social Security numbers, bank account information or credit card numbers.
And in some cases, these illicit sites are designed to automatically install viruses and malware on the victim’s computer to steal personal information without the victim even knowing what has happened.
BBB advises
Many tax-related e-mail phishing scams are run by people and organizations operating outside the United States, and their e-mails are often rife with spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Bear in mind that if the IRS has questions or concerns with a tax return, they typically contact the taxpayer by mail, not e-mail.
Those who have received a questionable e-mail claiming to come from the IRS may forward it to a mailbox the IRS has established to receive such e-mails at phishing@irs.gov .
For more trustworthy advice from your BBB on being a savvy consumer and navigating the 2009 tax season, go to www.bbb.org .
 


Copyright © 2009, MediaOne, L.L.C.