Three candidates behind on property taxes

Published 11:24 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2017

At least three candidates running for public office owe property taxes for the past year.

A search in the Lincoln County database for real property taxes owed by the 24 candidates who each hope to win their respective elections shows that all but three are up to date on property taxes for 2016.

Three individuals — Gene Buckles, Marilyn Dow-Harris and John Roberts Jr. — show a balance owed for multiple parcels listed in their names.

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Together, the three owe $9,485.39 in county, city and school taxes due plus an assessed 3-percent penalty on each parcel.

Broken down, that’s $4,346.56 for Roberts, $4,088.63 for Buckles and $1,050.20 for Dow-Harris.

“It’s a common practice for a lot of people,” said Lincoln County Tax Assessor Blake Pickering. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Pickering said that people who invest in real estate sometimes will take a penalty on the tax owed rather than take funds out of a bank account that is paying more than that penalty.

He said the penalty is not always a deterrent. “It’s more profitable to them to leave their money in the bank as long as possible,” Pickering said.

He said that taxes owed on a property must be paid the Friday before the last Monday in August or parcels will be up for grabs in a tax sale. And even if that happens, he said, the property owner can still pay the taxes and redeem the property.

That’s what Gene Buckles does.

Buckles, who is running as a Republican for the Ward 6 alderman seat, owes taxes on several properties.

“I usually pay them sometime in July or August,” he said.

A contractor, he flips properties as an investment. He uses the money to buy more properties. “My returns are better than what I’m penalized for,” he said.

Buckles, of 1410 North Jackson St., owes property taxes on five parcels. All five have been sold for unpaid taxes, but were redeemed later.

Buckles owes for:

• Parcel on 1410 North Jackson St.: owes $503.51 (Sold for unpaid taxes in 2012, 2013 and 2014 but was redeemed.)

• 1.43 acre parcel on Hwy. 550: owes $6.16 (Sold for unpaid taxes in 2012, 2013 and 2014 but was redeemed.)

• Parcel at 1503 North Jackson St.: owes $1,502.96. (Sold for unpaid taxes in 2012 and 2013 but was redeemed.)

• 1.5 acre parcel at 1856 Old Hwy. 51 NE: owes $1,377.41. (Sold for unpaid taxes in 2013 and 2014 but was redeemed.)

• 1.43 acre parcel at 3355 Hwy. 550 NW: $789.59 (Sold for unpaid taxes in 2012 and 2013 but was redeemed.)

“We never let one go more than 18 months, two years. We always bring them current,” he said.

He doesn’t think owing the taxes makes him irresponsible. He said it’s a business decision that he made after consulting with his certified public accountant and his banker.

Dow-Harris, of 1102 North Jackson St., began to dabble in real estate at the advice of a friend. She is the Democratic candidate for alderwoman-at-large. She has not had the real estate success she envisioned and instead, she said, she’s found it to be a headache.

She currently owes property taxes for 2016 on two parcels:

• Parcel at 1102 North Jackson St.: owes $888.61 (Sold for unpaid taxes in 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, but was redeemed.)

• 1.22 acre parcel at Smith Lake Road: $161.59 (Sold for unpaid taxes in 2014 and 2015 but was redeemed.)

She bought properties at the Lincoln County tax sale in the past, hoping to recoup her expenses and make a profit.

“I should have left a couple of those alone,” she said. “They add up quickly.”

Dow-Harris said they’ll be “cleaned up” Friday, which means she’ll be paying the taxes owed.

She’s not planning to visit the tax sales again.

“I’m through with that,” she said. “I didn’t even go this year. It’s not worth it to me.”

Roberts, of 536 South Jackson St., owes property taxes on five parcels:

• Parcel at 536 South Jackson Street: owes $3,632

• 62.46 acre parcel at 2897 Melvin Mason Road SE: owes $403.33

• 41.49 acre parcel, address not available: owes $169.68

• 39.50 acre parcel, address not available: owes $92.80

• 20.29 acre parcel, address not available: owes $44.61

No parcels have been sold for unpaid taxes in previous years.

Roberts, who is a Republican candidate for mayor, said the land belonged to his mother and was transferred into his name last year. The four multi-acre parcels are used for hunting. His mother set up a trust so that the hunting leases are used to pay for the taxes.

“They pay us in June,” he said of the hunting clubs that lease the land.

Roberts said he’ll pay the taxes when the hunting clubs pay their for their yearly lease. “They’ll be paid before the time is due,” he said.

Roberts said in the meantime he uses the money to invest in minerals.

“I’m trying to do it as a wise investment,” he said.

John Roberts Jr.

Marilyn Dow-Harris

Gene Buckles