Tax bills prove embarrassing for some public officials
Two high-ranking county officials, the district attorney and the director of community development, appeared on a public Web site this week among hundreds of others who didn’t pay their property taxes last year.
The county is legally required to post the names of property owners with prior year delinquent taxes each September, said tax collector Christine Dabis.
When District Attorney Clifford Newell was contacted about three parcels with two years of delinquent taxes, he replied that a check was in the mail.
By Friday afternoon, property taxes for three parcels owned by Newell and his spouse were paid, Dabis said.
“I don’t go through looking for names, but that one jumped out at me,” Dabis said.
Newell earns an annual salary of $154,086 and owed $6,882 on his property taxes.
Also, Steve DeCamp, the county’s community development agency director, owes more than $15,000 in unpaid property taxes that he said he is addressing.
DeCamp said he thought his property taxes were included with his mortgage payments when he bought his home several years ago.
“With every house I’ve ever had, that’s the way it was set up,” DeCamp said.
DeCamp said he was surprised when he received a bill more than a year later that showed he hadn’t been paying his property taxes.
“I’m none too happy with the mortgage company,” he said.
DeCamp began working for the county four years ago and earns an annual salary of $146,557.
The Community Development Agency oversees seven departments, including building, agriculture, planning, environmental health, housing, public works and sanitation.
Issued in November, first installments of property taxes become delinquent on Dec. 10.
The second installment of property taxes is delinquent starting April 10, and if not paid by July, begins accruing 18 percent interest, Dabis said.
She contacted both county heads to inform them that their taxes were overdue.
“It’s like, ‘What are you guys doing?'” said Dabis.
After the Newells moved their non-denominational youth camp, Snow Mountain Camp, to Silver Lake near Kirkwood, they put six out of seven parcels of the original 40-acre camp up for sale.
Three of the parcels sold, one is used for the Newell’s residence, and three more without improvements were pulled from the market when real estate “started nose-diving,” Newell said.
“I’ve seen this happen before. If they have a property for sale, they just hold off on taxes,” Dabis said.
The refinancing process of the three parcels cleared 10 days ago, Newell said.
A slight increase in the number of people who delayed paying their property taxes last year could stem from the economic slowdown, Dabis said.
Delinquent taxes will not hurt the county because of reserves set aside several years ago when the real estate market was booming, she said.
The county will get paid with interest, either by the property owners or through the sale of the property after five years at its annual property tax auction each fall. The next auction occurs Oct. 15.
“We’re not hurting because of these unpaid taxes. We will collect,” Dabis said.
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