LinuxWorld.com: Virtual case study: When Unix is a four-letter word

“The “I” in this scenario is that of a hapless systems
consultant who didn’t do his homework before setting off to meet
the client. The Happy Valley Tax Authority, its staff and mandates,
are fabrications but the situation presented, and the remedies
offered, reflect the author’s recent experience with real-world
clients facing similar problems. This tax authority is imaginary,
but the conditions, decisions, and outcomes described are broadly
based on real events.

The Happy Valley Tax Authority was set up as a regional
cooperative to administer tax programs for local governments along
an 80-mile stretch of highway. At the time of incorporation none of
the players would agree to use the largest municipality’s name for
the joint effort and so the tax co-operative was named for a local
tourist attraction: the Happy Valley Ranch. Although now rebuilt as
a federally funded national heritage site, the ranch house had been
built in the 1890s as a second-generation cattle baron’s imitation
of an English country manor, acquired a rather different cultural
status during prohibition, and been razed to the ground in an
uprising of the local moral majority in 1957.

In the 12 years since its 1988 start-up, the tax authority has
acquired duties that go beyond simple property tax assessment and
collection. One town has a hotel room tax, another provides school
tax credits for couples with two or more children, while a third
has an industrial land development program with both rebate and tax
relief schemes to attract tenants. Today, the authority collects 32
different levies from about 45,000 taxpayers. It administers eight
rebate, direct support, or tax relief programs, and collects tolls
on one bridge and two park entrances.”


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