By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock City Council has voted to hire an outside attorney to handle the property tax issue involving Councilman Victor Hernandez. Council members announced Thursday that Bob Craig has been retained after allegations surfaced that Lubbock City Attorney Sam Medina has tax issues of his own.
The Lubbock Central Appraisal District lists Medina owed more than $3,500 in property taxes from 2007 and 2006. He didn't pay those taxes until December of 2009; three months after Medina began working for the city.
The city charter, Lubbock's equivalent to the constitution, says no employee or official can be indebted to the city. "It further states that anyone who is found to be indebted forfeits their office," said Mayor Tom Martin, Lubbock City Council.
This is where the situation gets tricky. "The charter is silent on how you deal with someone who may be in violation, and so because it's silent we have to go the route through the District Attorney," said Martin.
District Attorney Matt Powell will review the charter language in question to determine if Councilman Hernandez or Medina should be removed from office. Mayor Martin says Powell's decision could ultimately have an effect on other city staffers or officials who have tax issues.
Victor Hernandez paid more than $10,000 in delinquent property taxes last week after Mayor Martin called a special meeting to address the issue.
"I think that everybody involved realizes that people should be paying their taxes. We expect the public to do it; we should expect ourselves and our public employees to do the same," said Martin.
Hernandez had been making payments on his back taxes to the appraisal district. KCBD NewsChannel 11 broke the story during his 2010 campaign that Hernandez was delinquent on taxes.
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