Wyandotte County commissioners are planning to pick a new member this week, but Mayor Mark Holland first wants them to talk about going back and finding finalists who paid their taxes on time.
The finalists, developer Don Budd and former commissioner Nathan Barnes, both were delinquent in paying taxes in recent years, county records show.
The commission is to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday to pick a new commissioner who could swing the balance between a panel controlled by Holland or one led by Ann Murguia, who lost to Holland in the April mayoral election. The 11-member commission has been operating one commissioner short since the election.
“It is very disappointing that both of these businessmen did not pay their property taxes for their respective businesses and left that burden to the rest of us,” Holland said in a statement. “In light of this, it is also disappointing that they put their names forward for this process.”
Budd and Barnes did not return repeated phone requests for interviews.
The two were picked as finalists May 30 out of 18 candidates who had applied for the open 1st District at-large position. That’s the seat Holland held before he was elected mayor and CEO of the Unified Government in April.
The commission could restart the process altogether or pick two new finalists from those who didn’t make the finalist cut if neither Budd nor Barnes wins a commission majority.
Holland wouldn’t say what the commission should do. Asked if the panel should reopen the process, he said, “That is a decision the commission will have to make.”
In his statement, Holland said Wyandotte County “deserves to have elected officials who hold themselves to the same standards — if not higher — than we expect of our citizens. It would be disappointing to me to have a commissioner seated who did not meet this basic expectation.”
Budd, part-owner of the now-defunct BMPZ LLC, was listed as more than $40,000 delinquent in 2011 on several dozen properties in western Wyandotte County. BMPZ was dissolved, and the Unified Government sold the properties at auction, county records show.
Barnes, who served on the commission for 18 years until April and ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor this year, failed to pay more than $6,000 in taxes in 2010-2012 for property at 1314 Quindaro Blvd.
Commissioner Brian McKiernan, who did not back either candidate for the open seat, also did not say how the commission should proceed. But he said he was disappointed in the tax delinquencies because one reason Wyandotte County’s tax rate is high is because of uncollected taxes.
“If these gentlemen truly are contributing to our uncollected taxes, then they contribute to our high tax rate,” McKiernan said. “For them to stand before us and say high taxes are the No. 1 problem seems rather strange if they contribute to the problem.”
Murguia, who backed Budd for the open seat, could not be reached for comment.