Publisher responds to ‘Record’ reporting

There is no denying the reporting done by the Marion County Record on our tax lien. I own 100 percent of it.

My father taught me at a young age that no one cares about someone’s excuses, and I am sure no one would care about mine, either. We had poor accounting procedures that I oversaw, they popped their ugly head out, and we are going to pay for those poor procedures. Education is expensive, whether you seek it at college or in lessons in business. It all costs money.

To be clear, though, as having a competitor less than half of the county reads tell our story isn’t exactly a good plan on our part, I am going to explain things from our perspective below.

We owe taxes to the government. The amount is still being discussed due to our mounting evidence that we didn’t know the taxes weren’t paid to begin with. Our company has to file withholding taxes each payroll. We show that in our accounting software, have to file a report to the government, and pay those taxes on time.

While the payments were being shown in our accounting software, I wasn’t aware the other two steps were not being completed by a former bookkeeper we had until we were notified by the government via certified mail. As you can imagine, this wasn’t the only thing we learned during this process, yet the lights are still on and we put out a paper each week, even if there is more work now than ever before.

As soon as we figured out what was going on, we took the proper steps to take care of the issue, contact the IRS, and put the proper procedures in place to insure it doesn’t happen again. One of those steps we took was putting my wife, Lindsey, in charge of the books going forward and sorting out the mess we had on our hands. Having someone with a vested interest in the company taking care of this issue made the most sense to me.

The transgressions were from years ago, so why are we just now hearing about it and taking care of it? Good question.

The government moves slowly, and while they have automated systems in place to assess penalties and interest, they have people sorting through the messes. We had quite the mess.

When they have asked us for something, we have given them answers, and the process continues to move forward. We expect a resolution in the near future. Many of the fees are expected to be forgiven based on our evidence, according to our lawyer, but nothing is final. The number the Record reported is accurate with the fees and interest, but I can’t say what our final bill will actually be yet, as we expect much of that to be forgiven.

The Record also reported that we haven’t finished our business taxes for 2018. That is also true. We filed an extension through our accountant, which is perfectly legal, so we could insure everything was done properly now that we know things weren’t being done properly in the past. In other words, we are on top of things.

While I take no issue with the reporting done by the Record, I do take issue with the pot shots and low blows their publisher wrote while sitting somewhere in Illinois on a college campus.

We operate newspapers in other counties, yes, but people who are in Marion County each day (like a member of our ownership group) would maybe know that one of us walks down to Hillsboro State Bank nearly every day to make a deposit in our bank account, right here in Marion County.

Most people in economic development would be excited that a business in Hillsboro deposits checks from people in Sedgwick, Harvey, and McPherson Counties, as we do.

I don’t have a college degree, but I know their publisher does, so you would assume he would know a bit about the effects of money coming in from out of county locally on an economy. Most people strive for this, but what do I know? Our business isn’t going to make a huge impact because we are too small, but generally people like the idea of out-of-town money coming into town and paying for things here, where our home base of operation is.

As far as local ownership goes, Lindsey, Tommy, Bruce or myself are in Marion County in our Hillsboro office almost every day. So, if the Record’s publisher wants to race to the Marion County Courthouse sometime soon, I will assume one of us will make it there prior to his arrival from Illinois, so long as it’s not summer break.

We aren’t perfect. I don’t expect special treatment or a pass for the mistakes I have made. It doesn’t bother me they reported our mistakes. As an adult, I expect to pay for my sins and atone for them, and that is exactly what we plan on doing.

All of that was going to happen whether the Record wrote a story about us or not.

One thing I did agree with their publisher on in his editorial was that small businesses aren’t fighting on the same plane as big businesses. We have to file the same paperwork, jump through the same hoops, and pay for the same programs as the big guys do without any of the benefits of scale they receive.

We get more scale than the Record does, as we have tried to grow a bit, but his points there hit true regardless.

Finally, this is the first time I have ever written or responded to something in The Record. While they take pot shots regularly at our company, like a little brother begging for attention, I haven’t felt the need to waste our ink on them in the past.

In this scenario, we felt it best our readers heard things straight from us, once they reported it, as we know rumors would only circulate if we didn’t.

I have no ill will toward The Record. I purchased this newspaper knowing they existed and had for 15 years of the Free Press’s history at that point. Five years later, they are still around and so are we, and as far as I am concerned, if people in this county want two newspapers to read each week rather than just one point of view, that is their prerogative. It doesn’t bother me one bit.

So, while I haven’t responded or acknowledged their existence in these pages, that doesn’t mean I wish they would fade away. It’s not my nature to want to kill something some people like. If you want to read The Record and the Free Press, have at it, just as long as you read the Free Press too, and I know you all do already.

– Joey Young, Publisher