By: Anne Geggis
When mayoral candidate Scott Brook says he wants to keep taxes from rising, he has more reasons than most people.
Records show that Brook, who has served as a city commissioner and was mayor from 2006 to 2010, had Internal Revenue Service liens filed against his home value that totaled $186,000 between 2009 and 2015. The state of Florida also filed three liens that totaled $650 between 2003 and 2005 — which have all been resolved, records show.
Brook, 54, a family law attorney, said he is working on getting free and clear with the IRS. And the records support his claim. He blamed the problem on a bookkeeping error — he did not have enough money withheld to pay what he owed when taxes came due.
“I can’t blame it all on my bookkeeper, the buck stops with me,” he said.
He said he is financially solvent — he’s amassed plenty of equity in his home located in Mariner’s Cove of Eagle Lake.
“I own the debt and I’m paying the debt,” he said.
Records show the IRS released his property of a $5,558 lien last May. The remaining liens, from the tax years 2006-09, total $181,423, according to county records.
He said he believes it’s more like $118,000.
According to the IRS, a federal tax lien is when they assess a tax against an individual and send them a bill they neglect or refuse to pay. The IRS will then file a public document, the Notice of Federal Tax Lien, to alert creditors that the government has a legal right to their property.
In the contest to replace Mayor Skip Campbell, who died unexpectedly at age 69 last October, Brook is facing Vince Boccard, 63, who also served as mayor until term limits ended his tenure, in addition to political newcomers Kurt Gardner, 36, and Nancy Metayer, 31.
Brook, who also earned the censure of the state Ethics Commission for taking a yacht trip offered by developers, is not the only candidate with some baggage.
Boccard was suspended from the commission in 2010 for violating the state Sunshine Law, when he met with the police union members in private. He was reinstated, however, and went on to get re-elected mayor in 2012 and served until he hit the maximum term limits allow. Also, his home was in foreclosure in 2014, which he told the Sun-Sentinel was the result of a bookkeeping error. The issue has been resolved.
Brook’s financial woes coincide with the Great Recession, when home values decreased so that many homeowners found they owed more on their homes than their homes’ value. Brooks’ first IRS filing was for the 2006 tax year.
Broward County records also show a $52,980 construction lien was filed against Brook’s home in 2007, by JBH Roofing & Construction. Brook said he doesn’t know anything about the lien and records show that it was released later that year.
Brook did acknowledge, however, he had work done on his house between 2006 and 2007.
Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.