6 Investigates

Aug 6, 2014 10:44 AM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

6 Investigates Follow-Up: Two Decades Worth of Unpaid Property Taxes

CORPUS CHRISTI - We continue our KRIS 6 News Investigation into over two decades worth of unpaid property taxes.

As we've reported, Cotton Broadcasting and its owners owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to the county.

Cotton Broadcasting owns Majic 104.9.

The law firm the county uses for collection, Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, says these unpaid taxes shouldn't have piled up for so long.

This all started a couple weeks ago when County Tax Assessor Kevin Kieschnick discovered 11 delinquent accounts, all linked to Cotton Broadcasting and its owners.

He found the accounts after his office started searching for past due accounts by school district.

Some accounts hadn't been paid since the 90's, and other accounts had been past due since the 90's.

Paul Chapa is an attorney for the Linebarger, Goggan, Blaire & Sampson.

He says the firm does file lawsuits to recover unpaid taxes, but normally doesn't file one until the taxes are at least a few years past due, since the amounts are often small in the beginning.

"You obviously don't want to file a lawsuit on something that owes just a couple hundred dollars. The court costs would more than double that," he says.

And in this particular case, there was payment on some of the delinquent accounts over the years, totaling $100,000.

But that still left a balance of $319,981.

And in some cases, bankruptcy can delay collection, but there was no bankruptcy here.

"This is not a common thing. This was unusual, and as I said earlier, I take responsibility if this case didn't move as quickly as some might think it should have," Chapa says.

Ronnie Canales was Tax Assessor from 1989 to 2012. He says he doesn't know how the unpaid property taxes piled up for so long.

"It could have been an oversight on my part, but it was not done intentional, there were never any deals cut, there were never any favors done for anybody," he says.

"There was never a directive not to collect on this account," Chapa says.

Carlos Lopez is currently running Cotton Broadcasting, after his father, Humberto, passed away several years ago.

Lopez says he didn't know about the unpaid taxes until recently.

He and his family met with the Tax Assessor's Office several weeks ago.

Since then, they have paid $99,000 towards the delinquent accounts.

Now, they'll be allowed to pay the remaining $219,000 over 36 months. They intend to do just that.

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