Yesterday I went to the city services center to dispute our arnona (resident tax) bill. We are entitled to a 90% discount as new olim. I don’t love the word “entitled” because it has so many negative connotations, but it’s the law.
Knowing that the law is on your side is a big motivator when dealing with the government.
Last month I had called to verify that my documents were received and was told to wait for a letter. After hearing nothing, I decided to present myself in person. I brought all the documents that I had already sent them. (Always the way to get things done, at least in this country.)
The first person I spoke with gave me a stone wall.
-“We sent you a letter that you are missing documents.”
-“We never got a letter.”
-“There is no such thing as not getting it.”
-“Well, then you didn’t send it.”
-“We sent it.”
Then I looked at the list of documents. Wait…this is the other request that we made six months ago, for a student discount.
-“I want to cancel this one!”
-“There is no such thing as canceling it.”
Whereupon I launched into the whole story, how we made a request for a student discount, then made aliyah and made a different request, so we want to cancel the first one and deal with the second one.
-“You’re completely confusing me.”
At this point I felt like there was no hope. But wait! She was sending me up the chain of command! It turns out that confusing the gatekeeper is a good thing.
I didn’t even know it, but there was an entire second room of officials next door, and I eventually got the matter resolved. Unless the auditing system bounces us back (but it most likely won’t), we’re all set.
By the way, this was an incredibly modern and well-run service center (the one in Hadar). They had someone at the door asking what your business was, giving out numbers–T numbers for water, F numbers for arnona, etc. There was a coffee shop inside with little tables.
And…there was a copy machine! At the dinky little center in our neighborhood, there is no copy machine, not even for official use. If they need a copy of one of your documents, too bad, so sad; you have to go away and come back tomorrow.