A council member and a council candidate are behind on their property taxes, according to records from the Pinellas County Tax Collector's Office.
Another candidate, Jerry Mullins, paid past-due property taxes Friday on two pieces of property after a reporter called to ask him about the delinquencies. Mullins said he did not know the taxes had not been paid.
Rick Butler, who is running for re-election to Seat 3, is delinquent. His opponent is Marshall Cook. Also marked as delinquent is Trish Macfarlane. Macfarlane and Mullins are running for Seat 4 in the March 11 election against four others.
Butler, a Realtor, who has served on the council for the past decade, has unpaid taxes dating back to 2005 on an office building at 5635 Park Blvd.
To bring the account current, he must pay $6,285.14. That's $1,929.49 for the 2005-06 tax year, $2,228.48 for the 2006-07 tax year, and $2,127.17 for the current year. He must pay at least the amount owed for the 2005-06 tax year by late April or run the risk of losing the property at a forced tax sale.
Butler said Friday that he deliberately allowed taxes to accumulate on the property because he had it for sale. It's easier, he said, to let the taxes accrue and pay them out of the proceeds of the sale than to come up with the cash.
"It was the best way to go knowing I was trying to sell the property at the time," Butler said. "At the time, it was easier to do that until I could get the money together."
Butler was offering the property for $139,000. It is off the market now, but he's still interested in selling it. Butler said the fact that he is in arrears on the taxes is an indication of the economy and how badly it has hurt real estate sales.
"We're all in this together. I'm no different than anyone else out there," he said. "The good thing is, I've got just about enough to pay it."
Butler said the taxes will be paid by April. The property taxes on his home are current.
Records show that Mullins owed a total of $17,363.06 on two parcels, at 5771 59th St. N and 5201 66th Way N. He owed $3,274.34 for the 2006-07 fiscal year and $2,648.34 for the current year on the 59th Street land. He owed $6,347.04 for the 2006-07 fiscal year and $5,093.34 for the current year on the 66th Way parcel.
Mullins said he did not know about the delinquent taxes until a reporter called him Friday. After learning of the arrearage, he drove to the Tax Collector's Office and paid it before faxing copies of the receipts to the Times.
Mullins said he once owned the property at 66th Way with David L. Harrington, a former employee. Mullins said he sold the property to Harrington years ago and did not realize his name was still on the tax records.
"I'm off it for legal purposes. ... I have absolutely no interest in that property," he said. "My name is on it because I helped people out in years past."
The property is valued at $210,400.
Mullins said his son lives at the 59th Street property and is responsible for paying the taxes. The house is valued at $109,400.
When asked if he received the tax bills for the property each year, Mullins said he did.
"I take them over and drop them off to those guys," Mullins said. "I drop them off and expect those guys to pay them. People don't always do what they're supposed to do."
Mullins noted that the taxes have been paid on his home. "That's the way I do business," he said.
Macfarlane did not return a phone message asking for comment. County records show she and her husband owe $2,549.88 on 3.3 acres at 8421 62nd St. N. That's $1,281.24 for the 2006-07 tax year and $1,268.64 for the current year. The land holds three barns and is valued at $613,800. The property has a $557,500 exemption because it is agricultural. That gives it a taxable value of $56,300, according to the Property Appraiser's Office.