I did not connect the dots, but Steve Gilbert over at Sweetness & Light and many others did. JoAnn Watson, the city council member in Detroit who demanded the city get quid pro quo payments from President Obama since the city overwhelmingly voted for the president, paid an incorrect and extremely low property tax bill for years.
Detroit city councilwoman JoAnn Watson owns a nice looking home in Detroit and paid $68 in property taxes in 2008. Sixty-eight dollars. It looks like the city of Detroit figured that the property was an empty lot for the past decade.
From the Detroit Free Press…
Watson said she was unaware of the discrepancy until the Free Press contacted her. She said the change came before she was elected to City Council — and without her involvement.
“I pay the taxes. All I know is I had a big drop when my house got hit hard by a tornado,” she said. “We had great damage.”
Watson said she could not recall the specific date the tornado hit, saying it might have been 2002, or perhaps 1993.
Look, it’s certainly probable that the assessors office screwed up 10 years ago, but if a city council member could not figure out that something was wrong with her tax bill, she certainly does not deserve to be any sort of leader in local government.
Here are photos of her immediate neighbors and how much their property tax bill was.
In June of 2009, it looks like Watson started to pay back property tax she might have owned, even though “she didn’t have to.”
Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson says she is paying back taxes on her home after an assessor’s error left it taxed as a vacant lot since 2000.
Watson wrote in an open letter distributed at Tuesday’s council meeting that she has paid $4,467.01 in property taxes owed for 2007 and 2008.
Watson says she will pay for earlier under-assessments even though she is not required to do so.
It’s not clear if she paid back the more than $20,000 (my estimate) she would have owed for 2001 – 2006 if the tax bill was on the up-and-up.