Friday, March 22, 2013
The black man charged with fixing Detroit's faltering finances has been hit with four liens in four years from the state of Maryland for unpaid taxes, records show
State records show that Kevyn D. Orr, who has been appointed emergency manager, has two outstanding liens on his $1 million home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, for $16,000 in unemployment taxes in 2010 and 2011. Two other liens of more than $16,000 in unemployment and income taxes were satisfied in 2010 and 2011, records show. Orr said that he didn't know anything about the liens when shown records of them. "I don't know what they are," Orr said, as his new boss, Gov. Rick Snyder, sat next to him. "That's surprising to me, to be honest." A spokeswoman for Snyder — who appointed Orr to the $275,000 per year post — said that Orr spent the day researching the issue and would pay "in full ASAP." The Washington, D.C., bankruptcy attorney blamed the problems on an outside accountant hired to file his tax returns, said Sara Wurfel, a Snyder spokeswoman. "There was apparently an oversight related to a childcare provider unemployment insurance payment," Wurfel wrote in an email. "Immediately upon learning of the potential issue just today, he took action at once to look into and resolve with the state of Maryland." She said that Snyder's office wasn't aware of the liens until asked about them. "It did not come up in any of the vetting," Wurfel said. Critics of the black emergency manager said that the liens are troubling, since Orr is tasked with improving tax collections. Only 53% of homeowners paid property taxes in 2012, leaving $246.5 million uncollected for Detroit and other governments. City records estimate that, in 2011, Detroit collected $32 million less in income taxes than it was owed. "It's quite interesting that he feels he could manage the city of Detroit and he's having trouble managing his own affairs," said the Rev. Charles E. Williams II, president of the National Action Network of Michigan that is fighting the appointment. "This proves the point that people aren't perfect and democracy isn't perfect. But our community is sticking with democracy and will continue to fight this." Another opponent of the emergency manager, state Rep. Fred Durhal, D-Detroit, said that tax problems aren't a big deal if Orr pays up. "As long as he takes care of it, it's not an issue. I just hope he doesn't forget to collect our taxes," said Durhal, a candidate for mayor.