City Clerk Candidate, Boman, Cites Land Debacle As A Guide To Needed Change

Detroit City Clerk candidate Scotty Boman is particularly upset about the lawsuit that embroils Plymouth Township and Wayne County Clerk, Raymond Wojtowicz over the bumbling sale, and subsequent purchase of 300 acres of land that belongs to Detroit.

If Detroit City Clerk candidate Scotty Boman has his way, things will change in the City of Detroit Clerk's office, and soon. Boman, a native Detroit resident, and community college professor, is running for office this fall. Boman say's he's certain he can bring about positive improvements within the city structure, regardless of the fact that they are in bankruptcy and under the supervision of emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. Boman is particularly upset about the lawsuit that embroils Plymouth Township and Wayne County Clerk, Raymond Wojtowicz over the bumbling sale, and subsequent purchase of 300 acres of land that belongs to Detroit. According to Boman, "The City of Detroit lost land, assessed at sixteen million dollars, to Plymouth Township because City officials weren't paying attention, and they failed to establish lines of communication to keep interested parties informed."

The land in question is 190 acres of the old DeHoCo property in Plymouth Township. The property remained under the ownership of Detroit after it sold 133 acres of adjacent land to a business concern called Demco-54 in 2006. In later years Demco-54 fell behind in taxes, so the Wayne County Treasurer initiated foreclosure proceedings in 2010. In the process, Wayne County seized the property owned by Demco-54 and the City of Detroit. Wayne County sold both of these properties to Plymouth Township in 2011 for a total cost of $606,150. According to Boman, "Plymouth Township came to posses this land for a small fraction of its assessed value, and the City of Detroit got absolutely nothing for this $16 Million asset. If It wasn't for an attentive neighbor this entire $16 Million SNAFU would have gone unnoticed. This may just be the tip of the iceberg."

The attentive neighbor was Richard Sharland. Sharland's family had owned property in the area since 1854, and he was the individual who first brought this matter to the attention of the City of Detroit. According to Sharland "I knew the tenant renting the City of Detroit portion of the land and that the City was paying taxes on the land. It sure looked like Plymouth Township was trying to steal the City portion of the land. Fortunately I think, with Beverly Kindle-Wallker's help, the City will be compensated for their property."

"The City Clerk is responsible for keeping accurate records. Someone should have noticed that Detroit owned this property, but no tax statements were being sent to the City by the County." Plymouth Township was only issuing tax statements to Demco-54 because it assumed they were the owners of the property. "Transparent records would make it easier for other Richard Sharlands to bring discrepancies to the attention of public officials." said Boman. Sharland contacted Beverly Kindle-Walker, legislative assistant to Wayne County Commissioner Tim Killeen to help get the issue on the Detroit City Council agenda in July, 2012.

According to Kindle-Walker, who is familiar with general property tax code, "The State of Michigan requires that the Treasurer investigate all tax-delinquent properties prior to an auction and to correct improper sales within one year." Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz was not vigilant in this regard, but fortunately Deputy Corporate Council Tim Becket and Councilman Kenneth Cockrel were able to push this through in enough time to dispute the sale."

City Clerk Janice Winfrey listed the $16 Million discrepancy as a line item on the City Council agenda titled simply, "Plymouth township land deal." Boman commented, "The urgency of items like this needs to be clear; at the very least the line item should have included the deadline for filing the dispute, and the amount of money at stake. Interested parties need to be informed when items that affect them are on the agenda." Boman went on to say, "If elected I will see to it that there is an open line of communication between the City and County to avoid situations like this from occurring in the future, but we also need to organize our records to better detect other costly errors like this before it is too late to recover our losses. This includes a policy of transparency and the publishing of these transactions online so that it is easy for the public to investigate."