By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — Councilman Robert Abraham will pay more than $80,000 in back city taxes within the next 30 days, according to a letter he wrote to the mayor and fellow council members.
In the letter, which was sent last Monday, Abraham said that a confluence of unforeseen economic circumstances put an uncontrollable financial burden on his limited liability company, Abraham & Mathews LLC, leading to the delinquency.
The unpaid taxes are levied on four condominium units that the LLC built as part of an 11-unit development on Garrison between Brady and Oakwood. Additionally, a Michigan Avenue office building owned by the LLC is in arrears.
The city charter states that no person who is in default to the city may hold elected or appointive office. If one is believed to be in violation, two City Council members can call for a special hearing for removal. A petition signed by 200 residents also mandates a special hearing.
Abraham said that despite not being personally legally obligated to the taxes, he would pay them anyway because of the concern that it has caused some in the community. He added that he hoped fellow council members would consider that when formulating any plans moving forward.
Council President Thomas Tafelski said the council needs to receive all the facts surrounding the issue, as well as a legal opinion from outside counsel, before any action is taken. The outside opinion is necessary because Corporation Counsel Debra Walling serves the entire council and the matter involves a council member, Tafelski said.
“People have to remember that everyone is afforded due process, and just because this isn’t moving forward at the speed some people want doesn’t mean we aren’t looking into it,” Tafelski said.
Councilwoman Suzanne Sareini said she was very surprised and disturbed when she learned of Abraham’s situation, but would reserve judgment until all fact finding is complete.