By Charles Sercombe
City Councilmember and leading mayoral candidate Abdul Algazali is still in the mayoral election.
Emergency Manager Cathy Square said it was determined by the city attorney that Algazali is not a “defaulter” to the city.
It has previously been reported that Algazali owed $12,000 in property taxes and could have been subject to being kicked out of the election and office because of a city charter provision.
(Editor’s note: A Detroit News report said Algazali is $17,000 in arrears, but The Review could not confirm that with the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office.)
According to Section 6-08 of the city charter, if an elected official or appointee is a “defaulter” to the city or any other government body the election results are voided for that person. The charter further says if an elected official is in violation of the charter he or she gets kicked out of office.
Square said Algazali showed proof that he paid his taxes, some of which were paid on time and some late.
Square conceded that Algazali caught up on taxes owed at 8557 Jos. Campau a week after the election on Aug. 12.
(The Review was made aware of Algazali’s tax issues the day after the Aug. 6 Primary Election.)
Square declined to say how much was paid.
“I don’t want to go parcel by parcel on what he paid,” Square said.
According to David Szymanski, Chief Deputy Treasurer of the Wayne County Treasury Department, Algazali paid nearly $3,000 on Aug. 12 for taxes owed in 2011 and 2012. The property had been subject to foreclosure, according to the county treasurer’s office.
Square said that even though Algazali was late in paying his taxes for that property, she didn’t think it’s a case of being a “defaulter.”
“I think it’s a case of oversight,” she said.
Mayor Karen Majewski, who came 62 votes behind Algazali in the primary election, agreed but said Algazali still has other issues.
“There are still some unanswered questions, and the councilman has not shown himself willing to address legitimate issues with the public he would like to serve,” Majewski said.
Asked if she will challenge Algazali’s status as a candidate, Majewski said, “None of this effects my candidacy, and I have no plans to pursue the tax matter further.”
As for rest of the back tax amount that was reported owed, it involves Algazali’s office at 9222 Jos. Campau.
According to city Assessor Tony Fuoco, for years the city listed the two-story building as three separate addresses. The building was the former site of the Leo Miller Funeral Home, and the family that ran the funeral home lived on the top floor.
Fuoco said that after Algazali bought the building he asked him to consolidate the three addresses for the building into one.
Fuoco said he agreed to do that, saying it should have always been one address.
“The city screwed up years ago,” he said.
Fuoco said Algazali moved into the top floor residence and claimed a 50 percent “Homestead” tax break on the property since he lived in half the building. He was paying taxes on time to the city with that tax break.
But the state recently did an audit of Homestead claims and apparently Algazali never cleared up the matter with the state.
Subsequently, without that updated information, the state thinks Algazali is trying to claim three separate properties as his Homestead, Fuoco said.
( A property owner can claim only one Homestead to get a tax break.)
So, the state cancelled the tax breaks he was getting for two years and put what it believes is owed back on the tax rolls, said Fuoco.
According to the county, Algazali owes about $9,500 in property taxes. If Algazali doesn’t clear up the matter by next year, the property will be placed on the county’s tax auction, Szymanski said.
Algazali has not returned repeated calls to The Review to comment on the matter.
There’s another twist on the issue of where Algazali lives. According to his candidate application form Algazali submitted to run as mayor, he listed his residence at 2434 Goodson – not 9222 Jos. Campau.
Algazali does not receive a Homestead tax break on the Goodson house.
(This story was edited on Sept. 15.)