BY JEFF CLARK
Recorded documents at the Lowndes County Circuit Clerk’s office show Ward 4 councilman candidate Marty Turner and his business Turner Furniture owe more than $15,000 in judgments for unpaid sales, franchise and withholding taxes. Judgments from the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security against the furniture company go as far back in the records as 2010, but those judgments were released upon completed payment, most of which were made on April 15, 2012. However, the records show Turner Furniture has not paid the judgments for 2012-2013.
While MDR Director of Communications Kathy Waterbury could not specifically comment on Turner’s cases, she said her office is quick to pursue delinquent taxes, including sales taxes that were paid to Turner Furniture by the consumer upon completion of purchase.
“We attempt to collect immediately,” Waterbury said. “We attempt to collect them as soon as they come due. But sometimes there aren’t assets to collect.”
Turner said the judgments were a mistake and he was working to clear them from his record.
“The state did an assessment on my business and they overcharged me, so I should be getting some money back,” Turner said on Wednesday. “My bookkeeper is working to get all of this cleared up. This wouldn’t have any bearing on me doing city business. If I didn’t stand up for myself and take care of my own business and cross my t’s and dot my i’s what kind of man would I be?”
According to Waterbury, if mistakes were made, the state would admit fault and the judgments would be “released by error.”
The judgments could mean bad news for Turner if he is elected in in the May 21 runoff with Fred Stewart. According to state law, council members must be bonded with an insurance company in the amount of $100,000. Although officials said it is likely Turner could be bonded, the cost for his bond may be at a higher rate than his fellow council members.
“These judgments could affect the cost of his bond,” said someone close to the city’s bonding process, who asked to remain anonymous. “Insurance companies are less harsh on judgments for medical reasons and things like that. But judgments from the state is something completely different. It’s like getting auto insurance for a high risk driver — the premium is going to be higher. The bond isn’t there to protect the individual, it’s in place to protect the city. But someone who owes tax money to the state could be seen as a liability.”
Turner also has a $56,023 judgment against him from a 2011 lawsuit filed by Gateway Shopping Center, LLC.
“This is just a dispute between me and my landlord,” Turner said. “The landlord broke the contract. We were fine until that happened.”