Five candidates in this year's Minneapolis elections are behind on their property taxes, blaming everything from business problems to just plain forgetfulness.
The group includes two who are running for mayor, one for City Council and both North Side candidates for the area's Park Board seat. This year's final payment was due Oct. 15.
Park Board incumbent Jon Olson gives financial hardship as the reason that he's not made a property tax payment since the first half of 2011. He operates a Dairy Queen in the Lind-Bohanon neighborhood. He said the recession and the loss of North Side residents who lost their homes have cut into sales.
"People don't have the money to spend," said Olson, who said he's optimistic that business is rebounding.
He also said he took a hit financially from missing work for six months due to severe facial and hand injuries that caused him to have to pay someone else to run the business. He was slashed by an assailant with a box cutter when he intervened to protect one of his employees from the intoxicated man who had attacked her outside a bar.
Olson's challenger, David Luce, had simple forgetfulness to blame for not paying his second-half property tax on time. When a reporter called, he reached into a cupboard when bills are kept and confirmed that the deadline was past.
"It's not like we don't have the money," Luce said. "Thanks. I'll go pay it."
Ninth Ward City Council candidate Ty Moore said he forgot to pay his second-half tax bill amid the pressures of his campaign. "I've always paid my taxes consistently," he said. "I'll be paying those online today." He did Thursday.
Two mayoral candidates are behind on taxes. One is Bob Carney Jr., who owes his full 2013 bill of $6,660. Carney said that the recession cut his earnings, he faced foreclosure earlier this year, sold an adjacent lot he owned to pay off his mortgage, and that left him cash-poor for paying his tax.
The other is Gregg Iverson. He had a legitimate reason not to pay 2013 taxes, but he's still delinquent on taxes from 2009 through 2012, owing $9,865 according to Hennepin County.
He owes no taxes this year, according to the county, because he qualifies to a 2010 law that exempts veterans with a 70 or 100 percent disability from paying taxes on up to $300,000 in property value. His property is assessed at a little more than half that amount. On Friday, Iverson said he has made some payments on his back taxes and plans to pay in full.
It's not unheard of for a sitting pol to forget to pay taxes. Former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton didn't pay her taxes on time twice during her tenure, including during her 1997 re-election bid. She denied that the lateness indicated a chronic financial problem. Two months later, the Star Tribune reported that she and her husband had sold their Wisconsin lake home while facing foreclosure on it.