It’s true: Many people failed to pay their personal property taxes on time in 2014 in Jackson County.
This is also true: One of those persons should not have been Kansas City Mayor Sly James, especially when he’s running for re-election in 2015.
But James indeed missed the deadline for paying some car taxes in 2014, as a Star story broke on Wednesday. Opponent Clay Chastain, who finished third in the April 7 primary, wants a court to take James’ name off the June 23 general election ballot and put Chastain’s name on it.
Personal property taxes like the one James failed to pay on time are annual in nature. They come around every fall and are due by Dec. 31 of each year. Even most people who aren’t in charge of helping spend $1.4 billion in city tax revenues — as James is — know that.
James’ reason for why the taxes were not paid on time is a weak one. From a statement by James, issued shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday:
“At the time that I signed the required affidavit to run for office, I was not aware of any tax delinquency. When I learned later that tax was delinquent, I promptly paid it.
“My late payment was due to a misunderstanding related to acquisition of a new vehicle. Several taxes and fees were paid when we registered the vehicle. When I learned that some taxes were not collected at the time of vehicle registration, I promptly paid the amounts due.”
This excuse does not acknowledge the absolute fact that James, while running for public office, could and should have double-checked that all his debts to local governments were paid.
After all, more than $84 of the $527 in taxes paid on the cars went to the city of Kansas City.
This is one of those embarrassing incidents that will follow James around, helping his critics make fun of him and his penchant for getting in other peoples’ faces when they do something he doesn’t like.
However, it won’t affect his easy re-election.
Nor should it, based on his generally strong first term in office.
As it appears today, James followed the proper procedure in paying his (late) taxes.
So his name likely will remain on the June 23 ballot and he will win a second term.