The tax man comes for the powerful, too, and this year three of Houston's 14 city council members were late in paying up.
Jarvis Johnson, Jolanda Jones and Sue Lovell all had outstanding property tax bills, collectively owing almost $9,000 in taxes, penalties and interest for property they owned last year, according to Harris County tax records.
But Lovell said hers has been paid by a mortgage company.
An aide said Johnson paid his bill after being contacted by Texas Watchdog. Jones said her bill was paid but refused to say whether she paid on Monday. This was after Texas Watchdog called her office mid-day to inquire why the council member was lax on her taxes.
"It just got paid," Jones said by phone Monday afternoon. Her bill was for more than $3,100 for a retail property in the 3200 block of Dowling Street.
A reporter asked whether she paid the bill "today."
"It's paid," Jones said.
The reporter repeated the question, getting the same answer.
A Johnson staffer said he appreciated Texas Watchdog "bringing it to his attention" and said it was an oversight that the tax bill for land in the 2600 block of Staples Street hadn't been paid since 2006. Johnson owed about $1,600.
Johnson paid the bill Monday, said Amie Francis, his chief of staff.
"It slipped his mind," Francis said. "It's something that his wife normally takes care of."
A Lovell aide said the taxes on her residential property in the 2800 block of Eagle St. were supposed to be paid by a buyer.
"There was a contract on that house that fell through, and the taxes were to be paid as part of that contract," said Tim Brookover, an aide to Lovell. "The deal fell through. The taxes have now been paid through her mortgage company."
Brookover didn't know exactly when the bill was paid.
No mortgage company was listed on that property in county tax records, and hadn't been for five years, said Fred King, a spokesman for the Harris County tax assessor's office. King said it is still possible, though, that the bill was paid in June because the office is still processing payments received last month.
The last day of June was a key deadline for taxes, when fees jump significantly and unpaid accounts are turned over to a county attorney for collection.
The council members aren't alone in being late to pay the piper, though only a small percentage of property owners were this late. The deadline to pay was Feb. 2.
As of July 1, just 3.86 percent of the county's property tax accounts were delinquent, King said by e-mail.
And that number could get smaller after all the payments from last month are put into the system.
"Some checks could be in the crush of June mail still being processed," King said.
In most cases, property can be put up for tax sale if the taxes are delinquent for a year, King said, but the highest priority for the county is on collecting on "big-dollar delinquencies."
Contact Lee Ann O'Neal at email@example.com or 713-980-9777.
This investigative report by Texas Watchdog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
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Thursday, 07/30/2009 - 03:11PM
Just for reference, I believe this is the Dowling property Ms. Jones owns:
Thursday, 07/30/2009 - 04:11PM
Thanks for the addition!
Saturday, 05/19/2012 - 08:55AM
I woul like to know more about 2800 Dowling st. property that war rented in 1968 from the south of Hayes Liquer store to the conder of Tuma. Berther Gain was one of the renters and I am trying to find the renters called Jimmy and Matilia place after Earl Marten was killed at his place. Is any one living who whould remember the renters. I know Mrs Besty still live who operated the cafe across from Hayes liquer store