The news was so surprising we immediately put out telephone calls to clarify what was happening.
It was that the Chautauqua County Audit and Control Committee was considering having the legislature's clerk's office take over from the Finance Department the task of collecting, recording and enforcing the occupancy tax.
The surprise was that while the committee was entertaining this possible turn of events, it apparently had not occurred to anyone to question the fact that:
If the clerk's office has time to collect, manage and enforce a bed tax, it has been overstaffed all this time.
If the clerk's office has the accounting, auditing and enforcement skills to do the job, it has had the wrong type of employees all this time.
If the Finance Department does not have time to manage the bed tax, then legislators should redirect some of the tax revenue to pay for an employee who will have time - or they should get rid of the tax.
That's why we immediately started asking questions about what seemed to us a bizarre proposal.
And we immediately hit a sort of, well, not exactly a brick wall, but a wall.
Finally after several days, the county's finance director - the straightforward and ever-sensible Darin Schulz - sent a note of explanation he had promised earlier in the week.
''Internally there had been some discussions as to restructuring some work responsibilities between departments. There was a misunderstanding of these internal scenarios which lead to the discussion that took place. Bottom line is that the discussion should never have occurred as it was based on misinformation and misunderstandings which have been since cleared up among the departments involved. The Finance Department does and will continue to do the accounting for and management of the collection of occupancy taxes.''
The point of relating all of this is that legislators should have realized from the very beginning that the suggestion was idiotic.
What in the world were they thinking?