Politicians owe thousands in back taxes

HEMPSTEAD, TX We checked out records and the biggest offender owes more than $15,000. It's all going on in Hempstead in Waller County. The town's mayor and city council members are on the list.

Tax bills went out in October in Waller County. The tax assessor-collector's office says the money was due on receipt, and considered late after January 31st. But we found that two of the five city officials who owe taxes owe for more than one year.

Former Hempstead city councilman/current economic development director Malcolm Brown owes nearly $6,000 in property taxes for one home. Between that and two other properties he owns, county records show Brown owes more than $15,000 in delinquent property taxes from 2005 through 2007.

The mayor, Michael Wolfe, Sr., owes more than $3,100 for 2006 and 2007.

Councilman Larry Wilson, Sr., owes more than $2,500 from 2007.

Councilman Paris Kincaid owes $859 from last year.

Councilman Fred Thomas, III, also owes $645 from last year.

"No, it's not fair," said taxpayer Randy Lyle. "It's unfair for us to have to pay ours and they don't have to pay theirs."

"Everybody's got to pay," insisted another taxpayer. "It's not a free ride."

Mayor Wolfe tells us his taxes are "in the process of being paid."

He wouldn't say why he's so delinquent. It being an election year he calls this "negative propaganda" likely brought to light by someone who wants him not to be re-elected.

Brown also admits his taxes are late. He says he simply hasn't been able to pay them, saying, "I pay as much as I can when I can. ... You and I both know the economy is bad."

Brown points out that it's not illegal to owe back taxes. We should note that we attempted to repeatedly contact the other elected officials mentioned in this story. Our calls were not returned.

The delinquent payments will increase with each month they aren't paid. The first month payments are late, a 7% fee is added. It goes up to 15%. At that point, the county may move forward with legal action.

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