An unfounded allegation has been made against St. Clair Mayor Ron Blum regarding personal property taxes that he has been accused of not paying.
The Missourian received a telephone call last week from a man who twice identified himself as Tim Miller. He claimed Blum has not paid personal property taxes on machinery and other equipment located at his residence and hasn’t for several years.
A call to the Franklin County Collector’s Office revealed Blum has paid all personal and general property taxes since at least 2008.
Blum himself, when asked, said all his bills have been paid and that some old equipment on his property has not been used since his construction company dissolved about five years ago.
“I haven’t used those things since I went out of business,” the mayor told The Missourian. “In fact, I’m trying to sell it.”
Blum said since his business dissolved, he has sold a dump truck and trailer. He has a crane truck, backhoe and a couple of job trailers that have sat unused since then.
When contacted, Franklin County Assessor Tom Copeland told The Missourian that there is no violation. He also said that there are no taxes assessed on unused or unclaimed personal property at one’s residence.
The phone number Miller called The Missourian from on June 4 is listed under Kempin Automotive in House Springs, owned by Chris Kempin, one of the tenants at the St. Clair Regional Airport. The city is trying to close the airport, and Kempin has been one of the pilots fighting to keep it open and accusing the city of being in violation of state and federal standards.
Several complaints have been filed by the local tenants with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration. None of the handful of airport tenants, including Kempin, live in St. Clair.
When The Missourian called the number Miller used in an attempt to speak to him, Kempin answered. He said Miller does not work for him but is a customer. Kempin said he had no idea that Miller had used his business phone.
“I heard him talking about the mayor and his property taxes the other day,” Kempin did say.
Miller told The Missourian that “we will get this information out to the public.” When asked who “we” referred to, Miller would not say.
On the St. Clair Airport Blog — an online chat group organized by Jim DeVries of Pacific, another St. Clair Regional Airport tenant who has been the most vehement voice against the city and its closure request and who has filed both formal and informal complaints with MoDOT and the FAA against the city in trying to stop the process — Blum’s personal property tax allegation, ironically, has been a recent topic.
Starting June 3, several unfounded comments have been posted, none with true identifying names. However, both DeVries and Kempin have been frequent users of the blog.
Users need to include a name when posting a comment, but anything can be used and stated.
“It must be burdensome, oppressive, or troublesome for the mayor to pay his personal property taxes,” one comment states. “I hear he has not paid taxes on equipment he has on his property for years. If this is true should he even be the mayor? I thought the city needed more tax money for schools, fire, police and other things. Someone needs to check on this rumor.”
That post is followed by these:
“If this is true why is he the mayor? I did not think you could run for office if your taxes were not paid by the filing date. Maybe the newspaper should do some investigative reporting.”
“It’s kind of ironic that the mayor is trying to close the airport to build a strip mall so the city can get more tax money and he does not even pay his own fair share. Wow! I wonder if the ... people that voted for him know he is a tax cheat?”
St. Clair has been trying to close the 80-acre facility located on the north side of town for several years. Permission needs to be granted by the FAA because the city obtained federal grants to make improvements.
City officials and MoDOT and the FAA have been communicating back and forth on a regular basis for a couple of years.
The city is waiting for a decision from the FAA on the closure request.
Oftentimes, the blog is used to attack Blum and other city officials. Kempin and DeVries both have done that. The attacks do not always deal with the St. Clair Regional Airport and usually are slighted to side with the local tenants’ views.