From The Gazette

Hudson

Former Hudson mayor was a tax delinquent: councillor

  • Michael Elliott was on the list of outstanding taxpayers when he tendered his resignation as Hudson's mayor in June.
    Michael Elliott was on the list of outstanding taxpayers when he tendered his resignation as Hudson's mayor in June.
    Photo credit: THE GAZETTE/Graham Hughes

Hudson’s former mayor, Michael Elliott, owed the town unpaid taxes when he tendered his resignation last month, councillor Robert Spencer confirmed to The Gazette.

“He has unpaid taxes going back to 2004, I was told,” Spencer said.

If Elliott’s tax delinquency, in fact, dates back to 2004, he likely has a very high bill.

A document of unpaid tax bills provided by the town last week had no names, but only one tax bill dating as far back as 2004. The outstanding amount on that bill was $64,800 – $32,727 in principal, $24,062 in interest payments and $8,011 in penalties. The document was dated June 25, Elliott resigned June 18.

Spencer said it was revealed to council that Elliott had an outstanding bill dating back to 2004, but said he didn’t know how much the former mayor owed. Spencer said the mayor’s debt to the town was revealed to councillors at a meeting last month.

“We had a special meeting, and at that meeting, it was confirmed that he owed back taxes,” Spencer said. “Following that meeting, Michael Elliott resigned for health reasons.”

Spencer said councillors didn’t ask that Elliott resign, but the mayor did so before they had an opportunity. For his part, he would not have felt comfortable continuing on council if the mayor had stayed on.

“I wouldn’t serve on council with a mayor, whose prime duty is to collect taxes on behalf of the town, if he owed back taxes,” Spencer said. “I wouldn’t have continued, but he resigned for health reasons after the meeting, so we didn’t have to go that route.”

Elliott was first elected in 1977 and served three terms as a councillor. He also served as mayor from 1989 to 1994, and returned as mayor in 2009.

Elliott was one of 315 taxpayers found to be behind on their taxes in an investigation conducted by the town earlier this year. At one point, the delinquent taxpayers owed an estimated $1.2 million, dating as far back as 2004.

Contacted by The Gazette on Friday, Elliott hung up on a reporter when he was asked about his outstanding debt.

However, last week, Elliott said he hasn’t had any property tax issues lately, though he possibly owed some back taxes about 10 years ago.

“I pay when it comes due,” he said. “I’m like everybody else, sometimes it’s a little bit late and I pay the penalty. It is what it is. The town never loses money on unpaid taxes, never. In fact, it always makes money. It’s a bit of a storm in a tea cup.”

It isn’t known if Elliott repaid any or all of his debt, and town officials are not saying how much he owed.

On Friday, interim Mayor Diane Piacente said she would not comment about the identity of any delinquent taxpayers, saying it would be a breach of trust.

“That’s between the municipality and the taxpayer,” she said. “I can’t confirm or deny that Mr. Elliott owes taxes.”

Piacente would not comment about how the mayor would be able to get away without paying his taxes, nor would she say whether the system has been addressed to assure that subsequent councillors and mayors can’t abuse the system in the same way.

She said a letter will be sent out to the remaining delinquent taxpayers, and if they continue to avoid their responsibility, the town will take legal action against them. At that point, their names will be revealed.

She said nearly three-quarters of the delinquent taxpayers have settled with the town, since the incident was first reported.

-With files from Albert Kramberger.

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