Myrtle Beach lawmaker, a finalist for city attorney, owes thousands in late taxes

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file photo jblackmon@thesunnews.com

A finalist for one of Myrtle Beach’s highest-paying positions owes more than $14,000 in delinquent county and city taxes, primarily on properties he owns in the city.

State Rep. Alan Clemmons owes nearly $14,400 in taxes on nine properties listed to him and his wife, according to records available on Horry County’s online tax payment website.

Eight of those properties, including the one listed as the couple’s home, are located in Myrtle Beach with $4,420 owed in city taxes.

Clemmons, who runs a real estate law firm while serving his ninth term in the S.C. House, is among four finalists for the soon-to-be-vacant city attorney position.

Current city attorney Thomas Ellenburg, who makes more than $150,000 per year, has announced that he plans to retire in June.

The position serves at the will of Myrtle Beach City Council, which discussed the hiring decision during an executive session at the city’s budget retreat Wednesday, according to Mayor Brenda Bethune.

Bethune said she had no knowledge of Clemmons’ delinquent real estate taxes, as did city manager John Pedersen, who added that he isn’t part of the selection process.

Clemmons did not respond to multiple messages left at his law office, his Columbia office and via email.

Paying taxes late on these properties has been a trend for Clemmons in recent years, as the county’s tax website shows he and his wife paid $17,440 between May 2018 and October 2018 on 2017 taxes and about $17,100 between in June 2017 on 2016 taxes. Those numbers include a Myrtle Beach property that the couple sold in May 2018, county land records show.

Property taxes begin accumulating penalties Jan. 15 the year after they’re issued and are considered delinquent March 17. Clemmons and his wife paid a total of more than $4,300 in penalties from 2016-17 property taxes and have accumulated nearly $1,900 in penalties from the still-unpaid 2018 taxes.

Delinquent real estate can be sold in a tax sale held on the first Monday of December, according to the county’s Treasurer’s Office, though the owner would have 12 months from the date of a sale to pay the taxes owed and regain ownership.

Clemmons and his wife paid the property taxes on time 2013-2015, according to the county’s tax website, but were also late making payments in 2012, accumulating $2,100 in penalties before paying the taxes between April and July 2013.

Three of the properties the couple owns are part of a five-part complex on Highway 15 in Myrtle Beach. The other two units are owned by Clemmons Development Corporation, an entity owned by Alan Clemmons, according to a filing with the S.C. Secretary of State. Real estate taxes have been paid on time for those properties every year since at least 2009, the county tax site shows.

The Sun News conducted a search for properties owned by the other three city attorney candidates — Alicia Thompson, Joi Page and William Bryan Jr. — and other state legislators representing areas in Horry County and didn’t find any delinquent taxes.

Sun News reporter Anna Young contributed to this report.

Investigative project reporter David Weissman joined The Sun News after three years working at The York Dispatch in Pennsylvania, where he earned awards for his investigative reports on topics including health, business, politics and education.