A Republican candidate for St. Clair County treasurer did not pay taxes for four years on a Belleville rental property he owns, according to county records.
Philip R. Kammann, of Belleville, owes nearly $7,000 on the property at 414 E. B St. for 2015 and 2016 taxes. V.I. Inc., a Belleville company known for buying up unpaid taxes, bought out a total of $8,600 in taxes on the same property for 2014 and 2017.
Kammann is running against Democrat Andrew Lopinot for treasurer in the Nov. 6 election. Lopinot is the deputy treasurer for St. Clair County.
Kammann said his failure to pay property taxes was “an oversight.” He said he has the money and plans to pay them as soon as this week.
“I’m not going to be perfect, but I’m a hard worker and I’m a man of integrity,” Kammann said. “I’m going to do what I’m obligated to do for sure.”
Kammann is an accountant with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration.
“More than anything, I’m a straightforward, high-integrity person that will run the county’s finances ethically and to the highest standard,” Kammann said in an interview.
Kammann has until Nov. 9 to pay the 2014 and 2017 back taxes or risk losing the building to the tax buyer. He has until May 22, 2019, to pay the back taxes from 2015 and 2016, according to the County Clerk’s office. Property owners must pay their tax bills within a certain amount of time. If they don’t, the county starts charging interest.
A property owner can delay paying the tax bill by having what’s known as a “tax buyer” like V.I. Inc. put up the money for the bill. The tax buyer then has the right to collect interest from the property owner.
It can be a good deal for tax buyers because they can make money on the interest until the property owner comes up with the money to pay the tax bill. If the property owner still doesn’t pay up by a deadline set by the county, the tax buyer normally becomes the owner.
Kammann was also delinquent on taxes for a rental property he owns at 506 Court St. in Belleville. According to county records, he amassed $3,889 in delinquent taxes on that property, though he paid off those back taxes last year.
Lopinot, Kammann’s opponent, said failing to pay property taxes is not “a quality the voters are looking for.”
“I think it’s a shame that someone who wants to run for treasurer, and run the office of treasurer that collects people’s property taxes, doesn’t pay his own property taxes,” Lopinot said.
Barbara Viviano, chairman of the St. Clair County Republicans, said Wednesday she was not aware of Kammann’s failure to pay property taxes. She declined to comment further.
Kammann said he has the county’s best interest in mind when he buys older buildings. In 1999, he purchased a vacant building at 418 E. B St. that dates back to the 1890s. He fixed it up and later sold it, Kammann said.
“I returned (it) to the tax rolls,” Kammann said. “Regardless of my oversight or my flaws, I’m part of the solution in my small way.”