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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2010

Companies linked to Lawrence city commissioner owe more than $140,000 in real estate taxes

Lance Johnson is linked to businesses that are $150,000 behind in taxes.

June 3, 2010

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The tough economic times have created tax troubles for Lawrence City Commissioner Lance Johnson.

A company partially owned by Johnson is about $147,000 behind on its real estate taxes in Johnson County. Two other companies that Johnson partially owns have about $6,300 in past due taxes on various pieces of real estate in Douglas County.

Johnson — president of Lawrence-based civil engineering firm the Peridian Group — said the downturn in the real estate and development industries had hurt his finances.

“I’m not different than any other person out there struggling in these times to pay the bills,” Johnson said. “But I understand the difference is that I am in the public eye. There is a spotlight on me. It is not a good example to set. I understand that.”

But Johnson said he does not believe the tax matters will affect his ability to carry out his duties as a Lawrence city commissioner.

“In fact, it probably helps me do it better,” Johnson said. “It makes me sensitive to people’s financial situations. I’m struggling like everybody else.”

The tax matters, though, have brought up questions that go back to Johnson’s election to the commission in April 2009. The company behind on its taxes in Johnson County — RKJ Properties LLC — was not listed on Johnson’s statement of substantial interest when he ran for the commission. The company owns the building that houses the Peridian Group’s Gardner offices. The substantial interest form requires candidates to lists ownership interests that total either 5 percent or $5,000 or more in a company.

Johnson said he erred by not placing the company on the form. He said he originally thought he was not required to do so because his ownership interest in the company was held by another LLC that he owns. But Johnson said Thursday that he now realizes he also has an individual ownership interest in RKJ Properties that should have been listed on the form.

“I wasn’t hiding anything. I wasn’t trying to keep anything from anybody,” Johnson said, pointing to the fact that he did list on the form 28 separate business entities or properties that he has an ownership interest in.

During the time of the campaign, RKJ had some taxes past due but was not technically delinquent. The first half taxes of 2008 were due on Dec. 20, 2008, about the time Johnson started his campaign. RKJ did not make the first half tax payment. The second half payment was due May 10, 2009, about a month after the City Commission election. That payment also wasn’t made.

As part of its campaign coverage, the Journal-World reviewed Douglas County property tax records of candidates. Candidates also were asked if there were any tax issues or other legal issues they wanted to disclose. Johnson did not mention the RKJ issue.

On Thursday, Johnson said he’s not sure he was aware of the tax issue during the campaign.

“I don’t know how much I knew about it in 2009, honestly,” Johnson said. “The members of the company share responsibilities. You count on things to get done and obviously they haven’t.”

In addition to the business real estate taxes, two vacant lots owned by a trust held by his wife also have taxes that are past due. Second half 2009 taxes, which were due May 10, have not been paid on the two pieces of property in the 900 block of Robinson Court, according to the Douglas County Treasurer’s Office. The taxes total $1,019. Johnson said that was an accounting oversight and the taxes would be paid soon. The taxes for Johnson’s home and his primary business, the Peridian Group, are current.

“I hope people understand that I have paid property taxes,” Johnson said. “I have been a taxpayer in Douglas County for 15 years, and I’ve been current.

“I just turned 40 recently, and I can tell you that these are the most challenging times I’ve ever lived in. It is tough to be a small-business owner right now.”

Johnson’s term on the commission, his first, runs until April 2011.

Comments

Brandi Simpson-Glover 4 years, 2 months ago

give him a break, leave him alone. he is human too. people may run into issues once in a while, who cares. struggling in hard times does not make him a bad person

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Uhjh 4 years, 2 months ago

Hey come I HAVE to pay my taxes. Everybody does regardless.

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Keith 4 years, 2 months ago

Best city commission money can buy.

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down_the_river 4 years, 2 months ago

Isn't there a County Department head on the State's delinquent income tax list? It's real stuff that happens to lots of people. Some people work hard to work their way out of a hole, and others just seem to sink deeper. And the richest ones likely manage to keep their secrets buried in layers of LLCs. Welcome to the daily heartbreaks.

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raja 4 years, 2 months ago

Maybe the reason he is able to buy all these properties is he is using the tax money to buy them, which in a since means the honest tax payers in Lawrence is paying for them for him

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paisley 4 years, 2 months ago

Get out of the City Commission and tend to your own business. Leave my tax dollars alone!

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Michael Capra 4 years, 2 months ago

remember Rundle didnt pay any taxes so shut ur mouth

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George_Braziller 4 years, 2 months ago

Try getting your facts correct before you post.

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Michael Capra 4 years, 2 months ago

look at boog and he didnt pay taxes on his plants

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 4 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone remember the bankrupt accountant who wanted to be a commissioner? That was laughable.

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friendlyjhawk 4 years, 2 months ago

Wow, there is stink enough to get on all sorts of people in Lawrence, especially the ones that want to tell others what to do with their money. I love this messy, corrupt town.

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bearded_gnome 4 years, 2 months ago

exactly right Krichards, hard times? just sell a property to get the money to pay the taxes ... duh!


On Thursday, Johnson said he’s not sure he was aware of the tax issue during the campaign.

---what did he know? and when did he know it?

sadly, I often agree with Johnson. his responses regarding the drunk/drug shelter moving out by the jail were very good.


yo Lance: I think at this point it would be better to say "I am sorry, I screwed up, I am making it all right right now."

you'd look better than "duh, I don't know."

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Uhjh 4 years, 2 months ago

“I’m not different than any other person out there struggling in these times to pay the bills,” No, the other people pay their taxes. And yes you are different you are a public servant HA HA! You are just a bum pretending to be a genuine upstanding, honest person. Get off your high horse! Please resign your position. You can’t do that because it is right thing to do.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Is this tax evasion?

Time to resign!!!!

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SofaKing 4 years, 2 months ago

I just wonder if the lawns are being mowed on all these properties! Sheesh, someone has too much on his plate. Sell a property, for goodness sake.

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Michael Capra 4 years, 2 months ago

oh just hang him u all have crap in ur closets shut up

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 2 months ago

You can make all the jokes about Mike Rundle you want, but he clearly didn't seek a seat on the city commission to grease the skids of his personal wealth-generating machine. Such cannot be said for the chamber candidates of the last 30 or so years, Johnson almost certainly among them.

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BigPrune 4 years, 2 months ago

I guess this so-called "bought and paid for by the Chamber" guy hasn't been killing a fat hog with his new found position and supposed fortune being a member of the Commission.

It's an Obamanation these days - only good paying jobs are government jobs (Census temps included) - forget the private sector - those jobs are a thing in the past.

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Catalano 4 years, 2 months ago

Oh, Lance, you dip. What did you do...take lessons from Sue Hack? Sheesh.

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Hoots 4 years, 2 months ago

You don't own your property...the government does. If you don't think so...then don't pay your property taxes and see what happens. Oh, you don't own your car either. Taxes trump your private property rights.

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tomatogrower 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, you could work a deal, but if your property catches fire, no firemen will come. If someone breaks into your place or threatens you on your property, well, you are on your own. And don't ask the city to fix the street in front of your house. Also, start digging a well, and putting in an outhouse. And please, never leave your property. We wouldn't want you walking on tax paid sidewalks and streets. And you must keep your children there and home school them.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 2 months ago

Gee some of the Lance supporters are some of the same people who smeared a city commission candidate for having filed bankruptcy implying that candidate would not manage the city's money well.

Now we have a city commissioner who expects all of the other taxpayers to make up what he refuses to pay.

Why did LJ supporters NOT reveal the Lance Johnson Tax Evasion matter during the elections?

How many other Chamber people/members are not paying their taxes and instead choosing tax evasion?

There are many many many vacant houses,office spaces and light industrial spaces sitting around town.

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LogicMan 4 years, 2 months ago

28 (+1+?) different business interests? Dude, it's way past time to simplify your life and reduce stress. But that's just one resident alien's opinion. To each his own.

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igby 4 years, 2 months ago

My taxes have gone up by 50% and my income has went down by 50% since 2003. With no credit cards or bank lines of credit, paying taxes is less important than paying the bank loans. I blame both the progressives and the home/real estate crooks and the bloated school district for not only the increases but they are the main reason our country and the world is in this depression. Local governments inflated home values because they were greedy for tax revenues to support social programs. Now, they can't even fix the roads.

You should all get screwed to no end and may you eat your children.

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Alceste 4 years, 2 months ago

Use this link: http://www2.ljworld.com/propertyvalues/ and take a look at what Mr. Johnson owns. With that amount of wealth, one really is not in any position to make excuses for not paying taxes due.

Johnson notes above: "I just turned 40 recently, and I can tell you that these are the most challenging times I’ve ever lived in. It is tough to be a small-business owner right now.”

40 and he's already acquired that much wealth in this small town? How'd he do that? Smart? Perhaps. Connected? Perhaps. I wonder what his idea of "tough times" is? Is it that he has to skip a meal every day? I rather doubt it.

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CLARKKENT 4 years, 2 months ago

WOW, IS THERE NO END TO THE QUALITY OF LEADERS IN THIS TOWN????

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Blessed4x 4 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like we found the next Secretary of the Treasury to me. Look out Timmy G!

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ivalueamerica 4 years, 2 months ago

I do not care for the slightest about this commissioner. I never have and I doubt I ever will.

However, I do not find this a good reason to talk about his roll as a city leader, this is a personal matter.

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igby 4 years, 2 months ago

Sue Hack's stock ownership a personal matter? Yea, right!

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ivalueamerica 4 years, 2 months ago

are you really suggesting that an undisclosed conflict of interest is the same thing as this?

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headdoctor 4 years, 2 months ago

Delinquent tax during troubled times really isn't as much of a problem as some might believe. Especially when some of it could be that he is does not own enough of the company to force payment issues.

The part that is disturbing is it would appear that he has not done a very good job paying attention to his own financial business for sometime. Why? Does this characteristic effect his handling of City business since he doesn't have sole control of it or is running for office and the City business causing the problem?

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KawHawk 4 years, 2 months ago

Holy crap. I DID just run Lance Johnson through the Property Values link mentioned above, and the guy's a millionaire !!! He's not having trouble paying his taxes, he's just CHOOSING not to pay them !

Lance Johnson needs to RESIGN !!!!!!!!!!!!

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bad_dog 4 years, 2 months ago

Haven't they all paid up? If so, no point in calling for their heads-at least on that basis...

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bad_dog 4 years, 2 months ago

"“I don’t know how much I knew about it in 2009, honestly,” Johnson said.

I just can't help but cringe every time someone qualifies a statement with the word "honestly".

It's kind of like when a person tells you they would or wouldn't do something because they are a "Christian". I believe in God too, but don't feel the need to advertise it as a basis for justifying my conduct or veracity.

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pace 4 years, 2 months ago

Another failure to disclose. Another Chamber candidate who fails to disclose. Another weasel. Either the taxes will be paid or the county will foreclose. I don't worry about his late tax penalties but my guess is he failed to fully disclose because it didn't suit him to address the issue during an election.

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igby 4 years, 2 months ago

He did disclose it via under another corporation's assets, however, he did not itemize to break down of the % of ownership.

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Sigmund 4 years, 2 months ago

No wonder he was pressing so hard for buying and cleaning up Farmland. Hoping to self deal and generate some business and free cash flow for Peridian to pay off their taxes. They probably don't own the property free and clear, more likely they have them mortgaged to the hilt.

In any event so much for openness and transparency in government we were promised when the last member of the City Commission was caught "technically violating" the law but was never "technically punished" for doing so.

I have been a bit critical of Chad "Cub Reporter and PR Hack for the City" Lawhorn in the past, so it is only fair to give him props for this article. Whether or not this prompts the City Commission, the LJW editorial staff, or the voters to demand any meaningful and real reform, I sincerely doubt it.

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jkatz 4 years, 2 months ago

“I don’t know how much I knew about it in 2009, honestly,” Johnson said. “The members of the company share responsibilities. You count on things to get done and obviously they haven’t.”

He knew a lot in 2009. He does not share the responsibilities of paying the bills. Lance is the person who makes that decision and gives the ok of which bills get paid and which ones don't.

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Alceste 4 years, 2 months ago

Wow. This article is very difficult to search for. Using "Lance Johnson" in the LJWorld.com search engine doesn't find it. "Property taxes" or "Delinquent property taxes" don't fid it. I wonder if the story is "buried"??

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