Broward Mayor Dale Holness owes Broward County more than $17,000 in delinquent property taxes. According to tax records, Mayor Holness has failed to pay 2019 property taxes on six of the seven properties he owns in Fort Lauderdale and Lauderhill. Two of his properties, both Lauderhill townhomes, were so delinquent that both homes were subject to public auction proceedings.
And this is not the first time Dale Holness’ failure to pay property taxes made headlines.
In May 2013, this reporter revealed Dale Holness owed more than $13,000 in property taxes. When asked about his failure to pay his tax bills, Holness was nonchalant about the matter.
Holness told the Sun-Sentinel his paltry $92,000 County Commission salary barely covered expenses for his seven children.”I’m paying it as I can,” Holness said. “I have different responsibilities. I have children, I don’t neglect my children. I’ve been helping them because they have had a tough time and even though some [of them] are grown … I still have the responsibility.”
Since Holness was so delinquent, his property taxes were sold in tax certificate process. The Sun-Sentinel explained at a tax certificate sale, “investors compete to pay the tax bills for the owners, bidding for an interest rate that will be owed by the delinquent taxpayer. The investor gambles on the eventual payoff from the taxpayer: If the property owner pays up, the investor pockets the interest. If the owner doesn’t pay, the investor can move forward with trying to acquire the property at auction.”
To Dale Holness, there was no shame in having tax certificates sold on his properties. He told the Sun-Sentinel, “The money still goes into the tax coffers. It does cost me more. It’s like a loan.”
Seven years later, Dale Holness has tax certificates on six of his properties. His delinquent tax bill is a mere $17,848 and change.
Yet records show two of Holness’ properties went into the more serious “tax deed application” process. Tax collector records show two Lauderhill townhouses owned by Holness did not pay 2016, 2017 and 2018 property taxes. According to the Broward County website, “All of the taxes included in the [tax deed] application must be paid by a cashier’s check in one lump sum. Amounts are subject to change as interest and additional fees are added.” If the taxes are not paid, “On average, it can take up to 16 months, after a Tax Deed Application is submitted, before the property is scheduled for sale.”
In 2013, Holness blamed tenants and a poor economy for his delinquent tax payments. Did he have the same tenants in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019?
Perhaps County leaders should revamp the tax certificate process to keep wealthy landowners from using tax certificates as nearly no-interest loans? With plenty of Broward homeowners and tenants in need of some relief right now, wealthy landowners like Dale Holness should be at the bottom of the help list, no?