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Official’s tax status puts seat in jeopardy

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Sampson hopes sale of prime property in Midtown will set things straight

By Cindy Simpson

It’s been a tough couple of years for Harriman City Councilman J.D. Sampson.

According to the Tennessee Trustee’s website, Sampson still has not paid his 2012 or 2013 property taxes and personal property taxes of $7,890.

“I guess I’m going to have to close down. I can’t seem to get any jobs,” said Sampson, who runs Sampson Group, a maintenance and custodial service.

He said he recently bid on work at a variety of companies, but he’s not heard back yet.

Many companies have made cuts, doing the work in-house, Sampson said. He also said some of it has gone to cheap immigrant labor.

He spoke about his struggle when he was shown to owe 2012 taxes in July 2013.

“Right now, my business is just about at rock bottom,” Sampson said at the time. “I’ve got just enough to keep what help I got, pay the mortgage and keep the lights on.

“It really hurts me I’m behind on them,” he added about his unpaid taxes.

Harriman’s city charter prohibits council members from owing delinquent city or county taxes.

Last year, city attorney Harold Balcom said Sampson could remain in his seat as long as nobody took steps to oust him.

However, Sampson, who is one of four candidates for Harriman City Council, may not be so lucky in August. If he doesn’t catch up on his taxes by the Aug. 7 election, a victory in the voting booth might not put him in a seat.

When former Harriman fire chief Wayne Best was seeking the mayor’s seat in 2011, Balcom said a winning candidate could not be sworn if found to owe taxes.

One thing that might help Sampson is if a commercial prospect shows interest in his land.

Sampson hopes to sell what he calls his prime real estate on Hwy. 70 near the Pine Ridge Road- Interstate 40 exchange.

He has come down from his original asking price of almost $900,000 for 2 acres to $700,000.

That, he says, is a bargain.

He said the ready-to-build property owned by Jerry Duncan and Steve Kirkham is fetching as much as $600,000 an acre, but he said with the savings a buyer would get on his land they could easily prepare his site and have money left over.