Local group calls for official inquiry into Houghton's tax problems

LANSING, MI – A group of Lansing residents is asking the Lansing City Council to investigate the circumstances surrounding councilmember-elect Tina Houghton's tax problems. Shortly after Houghton was elected to serve as the city's second ward candidate, it was reported she owed the city $3,300 in back property taxes.

Under the city charter, Houghton can't take office unless the delinquent taxes are paid. But some Lansing residents want to know more about why she was allowed to run for office in the first place.

Bob Gray says Houghton, who was appointed to the parks board by Mayor Bernero in 2007, has repeatedly lied about her tax status. "She had signed an affidavit stating the fact that she didn't owe any back taxes," Gray says. "She didn't say she didn't owe them to the county or nothing else. She just said she wasn't behind. She did the same thing when she ran for the parks board--she had to sign an affidavit there. She's committed two perjuries, as far as what we see."

Lansing City Attorney Brigham Smith and City clerk Chris Swope see it differently. They say since Houghton's delinquent taxes had been turned over to the county when she signed the affidavit, she technically was not in default to the city. City records show that Houghton has had tax problems dating back to 2004. Tina Houghton has not return calls seeking comment on this story.