Brownwood, Tx.– Longtime Brownwood resident, Martha Maybury, found a little surprise on her recent property taxes. Not really surprised that they had increased, because that’s just what taxes do, she was somewhat taken aback at the reason for the hike. Sometime during the fall months local tax assessors observed Miss Maybury shopping for yard decorations. More specifically, a yard gnome. Though she claims to never have purchased a cement statue cast in the likeness of the fictional forest dweller, it’s suspected that she thought long and hard about it. Twice, the surveillance cameras at Wal-Mart caught her inspecting the yard gnomes on clearance, and once the cameras at Home Depot recorded her seriously considering one, even going so far as to place it in her shopping cart and push it around for a short while before grudgingly setting it back out in a department totally unrelated to yard decor. “We can’t afford to take chances,” said a Brown County Tax official. “For all we know, she may have slipped off and purchased a gnome at a garage sale in a neighboring town like maybe Rising Star, or Blanket, or possibly Lake Brownwood where there is little surveillance. That last one isn’t actually a town, but it’s the perfect environment for yard gnomes. They seem to flourish in low-tech settings.”
Though a gnome house stands in a corner of Miss Maybury’s front yard, she insists that there’s no gnome living there. She has refused to pay the tax, and as a result, has placed this quaint little dwelling at risk. “We’ll just auction it off for the delinquent taxes.” said one official. “If she doesn’t have a yard gnome, we don’t see this as a problem. Although, we strongly suspect she is providing decorating work for an illegal gnome that she places either inside or near the gnome house late at night and removes early in the morning. Sorta like a drifter gnome.”
In addition to the single Maybury gnome issue, City officials have also expressed concerns of a gnome incursion since gnomes have a penchant for traveling. All over Brownwood, gnomes have replaced cement likenesses of many familiar and loved creatures, wild as well as domestic. Frogs, horses, alligators, and ladybugs, just to name a few, have relinquished their coveted places in our flowerbeds and gardens to make room for gnomes of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Even the prized cement burro with its long, attractive ears and dazzling southwest color scheme is being sent out to pasture.
Why the sudden popularity of gnomes? Recent surveys suggest that gnomes are cheaper than the native, nonfictional choices of decor and work harder to accentuate the beauty of our lawns. Equipped with specialized adaptations evolved from years of hardship, gnomes are well suited to the task of landscape refinement. “It’s just damn hard to compete with those boldly painted, pointy heads, and those cute little button noses nestled comfortably within those beards,” said one local woman. “It’s like they’ve prepared for this their entire lives.”
Popular though they are, the yard gnome isn’t loved by everybody, hence the new tax. Many local residents believe that if the growing gnome population isn’t somehow checked, soon there will be little room left for traditional, though less adorable cement yard decor. A possible solution gaining popularity with gnome opposition is a yard surrounding Brownwood and separating it from the smaller area towns. These sanctuary cities, known to trade gnomes at yard sales, and even operate private craft shops that churn them out like orcs, would be held liable to pay for this yard. The hope is that this would stop the invading gnomes dead in their tracks as they couldn’t resist the temptation to beautify such a colossal lawn.
For now, the yard gnome tax will remain in place, because for many local residents, though the yard gnome is only a fictional creature, it is a very real threat. Also, In addition to the yard gnome tax, soon there will also be a decoration tax for any christmas decorations installed before thanksgiving, or displayed for an unreasonable length of time. This tax would apply to Brownwood residents as well as the neighboring suburb of Walmart.