COLUMBIA — John Sam Williamson is one of two candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Boone County presiding commissioner. While working to gain voter support and gather name recognition, he's also busy apologizing for $9,000 in overdue taxes.
“It’s embarrassing, and I take full responsibility for it,” Williamson said Monday night. Williamson said he is aware of his outstanding property taxes but believes he has done nothing that is illegal or that should disqualify him from seeking the commissioner's office.
Candidates seeking county office are required under Missouri Revised Statute 115.342 to sign an affidavit with the Missouri Department of Revenue affirming that they are not aware of any delinquent income taxes, personal property taxes or real property taxes on their place of residence. Williamson said the affidavit he signed was correct because he has paid all taxes on his place of residence. Bill search records held by the Boone County collector show that to be true.
“It’s true that he has several tax bills that are not paid,” Boone County Collector Pat Lensmeyer said, "but the taxes for the property he lives on are paid."
Williamson owes $9,409 in property taxes on the 1,600 acres of farmland he owns. The collector's records show that he owns property with a total appraised of $1.5 million and an assessed value of $221,028, according to Boone County Assessors records.
Ted Farnen, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Revenue, said that the agency won't investigate Williamson's tax liability unless someone files a written complaint. Once an investigation is under way, the candidate is notified and has 30 days to pay his tax bill and avoid further action.
Williamson is running against J. Scott Christianson in the Aug. 3 primary.
"It seems to me that the first responsibility of the presiding county commissioner is to fulfill their obligations to the county they intend to serve, and paying county taxes is as basic as it gets," Christianson said.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Ed Robb, former 24th District state representative, in the November general election.
"I like John Sam, and I feel bad that he's in this situation, but I'll leave it up to the political pundits to decide if this has a major effect on the primaries," Robb said.
Records at the collector's office show Christianson and Robb both have paid all their property taxes.
Williamson said he plans to pay his late taxes in a matter of weeks, but he conceded the situation might cost him votes.
“It’s certainly not a good thing, but I wasn’t trying to hide anything, and I think some people will understand that we’re in a recession and a lot of people are behind on their taxes,” Williamson said.
Williamson said he's trying to earn extra money by selling firewood and leasing out 1,100 acres near the banks of the Missouri River.