LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - KCBD NewsChannel 11 has learned that Councilman Victor Hernandez paid all of his outstanding taxes to the Lubbock Central Appraisal District late Monday afternoon. The issue of unpaid taxes could get Hernandez thrown out of office.
We also learned that a second high-ranking city official had also not paid property taxes for this year by the January 31st due date.
Assistant City Manager Quincy White said Monday, "I have paid this morning." Whether or not the issue causes White problems is yet to be seen.
Mayor Tom Martin said our report was the first he's heard of White having unpaid taxes. He added that there haven't been any discussions among city officials concerning White as of Monday evening.
Martin said White should be held to the same standards as Hernandez. We asked Martin if Hernandez paying his taxes Monday evening changed anything. He responded, "not at this time," and said the issue would be discussed at Tuesday morning's special council meeting.
Lubbock City Council is on track to remove City Councilman Victor Hernandez from office on Tuesday morning. Mayor Tom Martin quotes the City Charter as saying that city officials cannot be indebted to the city. Martin also quotes the charter as saying Hernandez has forfeited his right to sit on the Council due to the unpaid taxes.
Hernandez owed taxes for this year and for previous years on a commercial building worth $242,717. He owed nearly $11,000.
White owed nearly $4,000 prior to his Monday morning payment. Of that, more than $870 represented the city's portion of his property taxes. White has paid late in 8 of the last 13 years, according to Lubbock Central Appraisal District online records.
Former City Councilman Frank Morrison also weighed in on the issue. Morrison was under scrutiny during his service for living outside his district, also a violation of city charter. He said he planned on moving back into the district. "There is no difference between having your taxes paid and living inside your district, in my opinion," Morrison continued. "You have to meet the qualifications of the office."
Morrison thinks the city should review the qualifications of each candidate. ""I believe it's the city's responsibility in taking an application for candidacy to an office to check those criteria and be sure every candidate meets those criteria."
Is White worried that he might be treated the same as Hernandez? He answered by saying, "I would let whatever happen just happen."
"It came as a total surprise," White said. "I was not aware that it was in the City Charter, and neither were other city employees."
"If I had known, I would have made different choices," White said.
KCBD NewsChannel 11 raised the issue of Hernandez' property taxes more than a year ago before he was ever elected. Does he feel like the city waived its right to pursue this issue by waiting until now? So far Hernandez has not returned repeated calls for comment.
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