Developer Owes Thousands in Back Taxes

The city of Lansing puts the brakes a major project after learning the developer owes thousands of dollars in back taxes.

Dan Essa is the developer with big plans for the former YMCA site on Lenawee street in downtown Lansing.

According to our partners at MLIVE, Dan Essa owes more than 40 thousands dollars in back taxes to the city.

That goes against a 2008 executive order by the mayor.

Monday night as the city council was prepared to move the project forward, it instead removed the item from the agenda.

We talked with the Lansing City Council president, Brian Jeffries.

He says he was shocked when he heard the developer owed thousands to the city and says it violated the trust they'd put in him.

However, the tax issue was overlooked at some point and Jeffries says had it been discovered, it wouldn't have made it this far.

Brian Jeffries, Lansing City Council President: “Well I mean, setting aside the embarrassment of it – we do spend a tremendous amount of time vetting these projects and we rely on certain people to do certain things but ultimately the blame and the finger pointing and the buck stops with council.”

Now the city says it was just as surprised and disgusted when it found out about the issue.

In 2008 the mayor issued and executive order declaring any developer seeking tax incentives must not be delinquent on property taxes.

The city says the vetting process for that is the responsibility of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and they're working to figure out why this issue went un-noticed.

Randy Hannan, City of Lansing: “We're disappointed that that wasn't fully vetted in advance and we're going to find out why that was the case so we'll be investigating that and we'll get to the bottom of that and we'll fix it.”

LEAP issued a statement Monday night apologizing for the confusion surrounding the project and saying it will investigate to figure out how the oversight happened.

As for the future of the project, the city says it's still interested in working with the developer but the council president says after all this, he's not sure he wants to move forward with this project and this developer.

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