Waco attorney Robert Meyers has helped the city of Waco and other taxing entities collect taxes for 38 years.
Since 1980 as an assistant city attorney and since 1987, when he joined a private law firm, Meyers has filed an average of 250 tax lawsuits a year on behalf of the city of Waco.
Ironically, Meyers, of McCreary, Veselka, Bragg & Allen law firm, has had to send letters to his client to inform city leaders that the city owes property taxes. In fact, the city of Waco tops the list of largest delinquent taxpayers in McLennan County.
However, Meyers is not drafting a lawsuit against the city that hires him, and McLennan County Tax-Assessor Collector Randy Riggs is not too upset about it, either.
Riggs said the city tops the list because of what he calls “struck-off properties,” which are properties the city acquires in lawsuits to collect taxes. After getting a judgment, the city forecloses on the property and tries to sell it at monthly auctions on the courthouse steps. If no one wants it, the city acquires the land, becomes the trustee and markets it for sale. The taxes are paid when someone buys the property.
Kendra Anderson-Zadnik, a real estate broker for the city of Waco, said she has sold about 800 pieces of property on the city’s behalf in the past four years.
According to records in Riggs’ tax office, the city has 185 accounts with back taxes totaling $328,690. That does not include penalties and interest.
With $45,730 in back taxes listed, McLennan County would come in at the No. 14 on the list of largest delinquent taxpayers, the city of McGregor would come in at No. 15 with $44,591, and the state of Texas at No. 17 with $40,845. They likely made the list for the same reason as the city of Waco, “struck-off properties,” Riggs said.
Second on the list, behind the city of Waco, is Yakoob Ali, owner of an abandoned gas station at 2110 E. Waco Drive. Ali has paid no taxes on the property since 2003 and currently owes $196,468 in taxes, penalties and interest, according to tax office figures.
Meyers has filed several tax suits against Ali and multiple attempts have been made to sell the property. But the amount of back taxes and the expense of removing underground gasoline tanks have likely deterred buyers, Riggs said.
Ali could not be reached Friday.
Coming in at No. 4 is Croft Automation LLC, a former business at 1101 W. Loop 340, which owes $72,760, not including penalties and interest. Behind Croft is Patriot Homes of Texas, the bankrupt mobile home manufacturer, which owes $65,679, not including penalties and interest.
W.H. Littles and Sons Mortuary, which owes $63,341 in taxes levied, is No. 6 on the list. Meyers said his office is working with the mortuary owners to work out a payment plan. A mortuary employee deferred comment to managers, but no one returned a phone message from the Tribune-Herald on Friday.
Others on the list of largest delinquent taxpayers include Star Construction Services, $59,498; Axion Structural Innovations, $58,412; AAlmark Roofing, $56,337; Reddy-Gator Inc., $49,747; and One Contract Inc., $41,956.
Numbers 3, 8, 11, 13, 18 and 19 on the list are individual homeowners who have filed for tax deferments because they are 65 or older. Riggs said a small percentage of county taxpayers take advantage of the over 65 deferment, which remains in effect until the property ceases to be the owner’s primary residence.
“As our society ages, we have more baby boomers turning 65,” Riggs said. “What if they all defer? What would happen? It would be interesting, because how would the entities get the money to provide services to the citizens?”
Meyers said tax collection levels continue to increase each year as the economy remains strong. Through July 31, the city of Waco has collected 98.6 percent of its levy, Meyers said.
“Most of our clients in McLennan County are experiencing high collection of taxes,” Meyers said. “I think it is because of the economic vitality of our community. I think what drives tax collection is the ability to pay. They have jobs, they have revenue. Their property is worth money and they are paying taxes on the property they want to keep and they have the money to pay it. I think that is a very positive sign for our community that the percentage of tax collection is going up each year.”