|The history making enablers of Mayor Paul Dyster's breathtaking spending spree - The casino cash parsing (it's not taxpayer's money) while socking it to the taxpayers - except for Walker who doesn't pay taxes.... (L-R Kristen Grandinetti, Andrew Touma and Charles Walker).
|This aerial view of Charles Walker's home shows Gluck Park across the street which he voted to use taxpayer money to spruce up which improved his view at least a little....
Here we go again.
While he has voted to raise YOUR taxes seven times in the last eight years, City Councilman Charles A. Walker III has failed to pay his own city and school property taxes on his home at 1821 16th St. in Niagara Falls.
A call to the Niagara Falls Billing Department last week revealed that Walker, whose home is assessed at $31,200 for tax purposes, has not paid property taxes since 2011 and now owes more than $11,542 in back taxes, interest and penalties for city and school taxes.
Property taxes pay for city services and salaries including Walker's council salary.
The sum Walker owes the city is accruing at 12 percent interest and is compounded monthly.
A call to Niagara County revealed Walker also stopped paying county taxes in 2009 and owes the county $1968.
Walker is one year away from having his house go for an in rem foreclosure in the city he represents.
Walker and his wife Linda purchased their home on 16th St in 2007 for $25,000 which means he paid taxes four of the eight years he owned it. The Walker's home is a single family residence built in 1920 and has about 1500 square feet of living space, a detached garage and a fenced yard.
Meantime not only has he has voted on tax increases, but Walker supported a blast of spending schemes that Mayor Paul Dyster has presented to the council. Walker is not alone in being delinquent in his property taxes.
There are many people in this city who are behind on property taxes and every year the city takes a number of these homes away from their owners and puts them up for sale in tax auctions.
The City has budgeted one million dollars in revenue for 2015 for homes sold in auction, homes of those who have not paid property taxes. This fall the city is expected to foreclose homes of residents who have not paid since 2010.
Recently Walker sponsored a resolution to spend taxpayers' money to fix up Gluck Park directly across the street from his home making his property worth more.
In 2012, Walker voted to support Mayor Dyster's 12 percent tax increase.
It was shaved down by Council members Glenn Choolokian and Sam Fruscione to a negligible amount after the conservative duo decided that the city paying $3 million a year to USA Niagara to stage parties and events on Old Falls St and pay Global Spectrum to lose money at the Conference Center was stupid.
Walker at first went along with the 12 percent increase for Dyster.
Then he went along with the near zero increase of Choolokian/Fruscione.
What difference did it make?
Twelve percent or one percent, Walker isn't paying anyway.
In 2013, Walker said Dyster's budget, with no tax increases or layoffs, makes his job easier.
"Anytime you can come up with a budget where there's no increases, no increases, no increases, it's a good thing for a council member to work with," he said.
Walker added the council and the administration will need to keep working to bring revenues and expenses in line so that they may eventually be able to decrease taxes.
"If we can't get businesses to come here because of the high tax rate it's going to be hard to get that smaller piece of having new homeowners and things like that," Walker said.
After Fruscione was defeated, Walker joined Andy Touma and Kristen Grandinetti in an orgy of Dyster-led spending for special interests using casino cash and with the inevitable abortion budget sent to the property-taxpaying residents.
One of the first things the Dyster-led trio did was to restore $1.5 million a year to USA Niagara in order for them to again pay Global Spectrum to stage parties and events on Old Falls St and subsidize the state's conference center.
In 2014, as council chairman, Walker stated a goal of coming in under the state's tax cap which allows cities to raise property taxes by no more than 2 percent without special legislation.
The mayor said the structural deficit (which he, with the council's help, created) will likely take a long time to fix, making tax increases likely every year while Dyster continues to brew through tens of millions of casino money as if stone cold sobriety would never come, and as if property taxes could be paid by the plebeians while the council and Dyster could hand out casino cash to everyone who knew how to return a favor.
"I'm not looking for a tax increase," Walker said in response. "We'll dig into this budget and see what's there."
But in the end, rather than cut spending, and there were plenty of places to do so, starting with $1.5 million a year to USA Niagara to stage parties on Old Falls St and give Global Spectrum money so they won't have to work too hard to book the Conference Center, Walker supported a tax hike.
Why not? He doesn't pay anyway.
In addition to Walker not paying property taxes, a lien was taken on Walker's home because the law firm of Bulan, Chiari, Horwitz and Ilecki had to sue him after he failed to pay a loan he had gotten from his dues-paying union brothers at UAW Local 55 Federal Credit Union in the amount of $5,805.11.
Bulan Chiari took the laggard to court and won a judgment against Walker on June 8, 2010.
With around $13,500 in back taxes, and growing daily, plus the original $5,805 judgement which is a lien on his property which, with statutory interest at nine percent, has grown to more than $9,000, it leaves very little equity left in his home.
Walker may be the first councilman in Niagara Falls to lose his house to a Niagara Falls tax foreclosure, a happy accomplishment for a councilman who has been in office for 18 years and qualifies for lifetime health insurance from the taxpayers of this city of which he is not one.
This past month Walker said the city should look at doing a property reassessment instead of raising taxes.
"There's a lot of things we need to take a look at as far as making things cost-effective" other than just talking about tax increases," he said.
Walker's not paying his property taxes while talking out of both sides of his mouth on taxes comes as little surprise to the Reporter.
Walker received more than three dozen campaign contributions equaling $10's of thousands of dollars which he illegally did not report to the State Board of Elections.
He did not file reports for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and only recently filed an incomplete record of his 2013 campaign disclosures.
Walker said last year had he known of the city's true financial shape, he might have made a different decision on spending $1.5 million to give to USA Niagara Development Corp. to stage events and parties on Old Falls St and help Global Spectrum make a profit even if they lose money running the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.
Maybe if residents had known Walker's true financial shape they would have asked him to recuse himself from voting on any and all tax and spending matters.