Councilmember falls behind on bills – again

Saad Almasmari

Saad Almasmari

By Charles Sercombe
City Councilmember Saad Almasmari is attempting to climb up the political ladder and become state representative in this election year.
And in order to achieve that goal he’s not shy in admitting to something many voters here can relate to: He’s broke.
“I am a poor person,” he told The Review. “I’m suffering just like my constituents.”
As proof of his financial challenges, Almasmari readily acknowledges he has fallen behind on his water bills and property taxes.
In the last couple of weeks the city shut off water service at his home and at a rental dwelling he owns, according to city utility records. According to the city’s website, Almasmari was behind $173 for his house at 2261 Faber, but he made a partial payment two days later.
On May 3, a house he owns at 2267 Faber had service shut off because he owed $743. On May 4, he made a partial payment to that debt. Almasmari said that bill should have been paid by the renter – not him.
On top of that, he is behind on his 2017 property taxes for his residence at 2261 Faber ($498) and another house at 2267 Faber ($883), according to the Wayne County Treasury Department.
He is also behind on property taxes for a commercial building he owns at 9723 Conant. He owes the county $1,646 for 2017.
Almasmari told The Review he was going to pay his property tax bills on Thursday, the day The Review went to press.
Almasmari has a history of falling behind on water bills and property taxes. In 2017 alone, he faced water shut-off service four times.
If Almasmari does not pay what’s owed for property taxes, the county will put his properties up for sale after three years.
Almasmari told The Review he makes no qualms about falling behind on his taxes and water bills. In fact, he said having financial troubles makes him uniquely qualified to hold office.
“I’m an example of everyone in the district,” Almasmari said in reference to residents who live in the House district that he seeks to represent in Lansing. “I don’t have a million dollars in the bank.”
The 4th District consists of Hamtramck, Highland Park and part of Detroit. The district indeed has many low-income residents.
“Everybody gets their water shut off,” he added. “It’s normal to not afford your bills all the time.”
The issue of a city elected official falling behind in bills to the city raises the question of whether Almasmari is a “defaulter.”
According to the City Charter, any public official who falls behind on bills owed to Hamtramck or any other government agency is a “defaulter” and thus disqualified from holding office.
There have been instances in the past where elected officials fell behind on water bills and property taxes, but city officials have been reluctant to pursue the matter.
Last year Carrie Beth Lasley, a government watchdog, submitted documentation to the city showing that in 2015 Councilmember Anam Miah lost property he owned in Detroit to foreclosure after failing to keep on top of property tax payments.
But in a review of the matter then-City Attorney John Clark said that since the issue happened before Miah was elected, he was not technically a defaulter.

May 11, 2018

10 Responses to Councilmember falls behind on bills – again

  1. Roadman

    May 11, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    What about the water bill obligations at the residence of Andrea Karpinski – which have been subject to scrutiny during her tenure on City Council?

    Here are some recent ledger entries that are available online as matters of public record:

    2/9/2018 Penalty $2.82

    3/9/2018 Penalty $1.65

    4/10/2018 Penalty $2.82

    4/17/2018 Shutoff notice sent

    5/10/2018 Penalty $2.82 (Balance – $102.53)

    What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander – if we publicize Councilman Almasmari’s alleged defaults, we should publicize other elected officials who may be in default and not qualified to hold their position as an elected officeholder under the City Charter.

  2. Concerned

    May 12, 2018 at 1:56 am

    To consider someone in default, a court has to decide this.

    Unpaid tax and water bills are usually satisfied when the county seizes your property and sells it in the auction.

    If the city and/or county don’t recoup what’s owned, then they can take the person to court which will find him/her in default and, if the ruling isn’t appealed, then he/she can be removed from office.

    It’s not a simple matter as your newspaper is trying to portray it. I know of people who the city claimed they owe money and are in default, to discover later that the city is the one actually own them money.

  3. AP

    May 13, 2018 at 11:29 am

    This is a reasonable excuse, lots of poor people own rental properties, fleets of ice cream trucks, and restaurants…..🤔

  4. Resident

    May 13, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    If Saad Almasmari is broke why is he driving around in a brand new Cadillac SUV?

  5. guest

    May 14, 2018 at 9:14 am

    If he is not able to manage own responsibility how he is going to be able to represent the people from the district?

  6. Concerned

    May 14, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Residents make choices at the ballot box. Didn’t you know that Trump was elected despite all his shortcomings?

  7. Roadman

    May 14, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    “If Saad Almasmari is broke why is he driving around in a brand new Cadillac SUV.”

    You just answered your own question.

    Do you know how much Cadillac SUV lease payments and insurance runs?

  8. Resident

    May 15, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Roadman, I think you missed the point of my rhetorical question. This guy is claiming to be broke, but is driving around in one of the most expensive vehicles to both lease and insure. Either he is broke, or he is not broke, but one cannot be both broke and drive a brand new, fully-insured Cadillac. And if somehow he is actually broke but drives that vehicle, then I think it speaks to his level of ignorance regarding sound financial management.

  9. Stan Zelmanski

    May 15, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    What about other City Council members who may be defaulters?

    Why are people focusing upon Mr. Almasmari?

  10. Roadman

    May 15, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    @Resident:

    Some Americans believe in the concept of “conspicuous consumption” – even if it requires you to not live within your means.

    Driving a Cadillac is a status symbol of success for some.

    Obviously you have noticed his use of a Cadillac – so Saad’s apparent intent to be conspicuous is working.

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