Times Reports Gary School Board Member Owes $566,000 in Property Taxes
From the Northwest Indiana Times:
ne of the city's own school board members is one of the many derelict property owners whose tax avoidance has helped push the district into closing six of its public schools.
The Lake County Treasurer is trying to collect more than $566,000 in delinquent taxes and penalties from real estate owned under the name of Marion R. Williams, who has represented the Gary School Corp.'s 4th district since 2008.
County records indicate Williams has declined for years to pay taxes on 96 parcels, many of them in Gary's down-on-its-luck Marshalltown neighborhood, with an assessed value of more than $1.2 million.
Williams acknowledges the tax debts, noting, however, some of the properties he owned were divided among his ex-wife and children following a divorce, although county records still reflect him as the owner.
The properties are among thousands of abandoned or dilapidated properties littering the city, dragging down its property tax to a disastrous 42 percent collection rate and contributing to the school district's $23.7 million budget deficit.
Williams said he has no intention of making good on these delinquent properties, seeing himself as a victim of the city's profoundly depressed real estate market.
"I wasn't making a profit from them. I'm not going to be paying taxes if there is no reward or profit in what I am doing. Part of it is about being a good businessman," he said Friday.