Raymore mayor says he may pay dearly for tax issue

Raymore Mayor Juan Alonzo says a mistake he made — being slow to pay delinquent 2007 state income taxes — may cost him his office.

The city attorney is expected to render an opinion today on whether the mayor’s actions warrant calling in a hearing officer to determine if Alonzo violated city and state laws, said City Manager Eric Berlin.

The council is to discuss the issue when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Adams raised the question of violations this week when he learned that a lien of more than $10,600 had recently been filed against the mayor by the Missouri Department of Revenue for not paying personal income taxes due in 2008.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Alonzo said he forgot to mail in his tax forms three years ago and didn’t know until the state called him in July 2011.

He said he learned, after months of going though paperwork at home, that he had forgotten to file the tax forms, so he eventually mailed them with a check to the state. But not before the state filed a judgment in October.

“Make no mistake, I’m in error,” Alonzo said. “I should have made sure those taxes were paid in 2008, and I should have taken faster action to file and pay them in October, but that is not something that is against the law.”

Alonzo said he thinks the matter is only between him and the Missouri Department of Revenue.

But the issue is being pushed for “political reasons,” he said, because he and the council have been at odds on several issues, including a gun ordinance proposed twice by council member Jeff Cox and vetoed by Alonzo.

It would have allowed council members to carry concealed weapons in City Hall.

Cox and Adams said politics has nothing to do with the call for an investigation.

“I see this as a legal and factual question,” Cox said. “There are a lot of unanswered questions here.”

In an email to city officials, including the mayor, Adams questioned whether Alonzo violated a city ordinance that says a person can’t “be a candidate for mayor, elected the mayor or hold office as mayor, who is in arrears for any city tax, lien, forfeiture …”

He also questioned whether Alonzo violated a Missouri statute that lays out reasons a person can be disqualified to run for office, including delinquent state income and personal property taxes.

Adams’ email also questioned whether Alonzo committed perjury when he signed and filed an affidavit with the Department of Revenue stating that he was “not currently aware of any delinquency…”

The affidavit was required for a person to run for office, which the mayor did in 2010.

Given the friction at City Hall and the City Council’s authority to determine whether a council member or the mayor is qualified to serve, Alonzo said, his position may be in jeopardy.