Two prominent members of a polygamous sect who failed to pay off past-due property taxes have been told to vacate their homes.
Eviction notices were posted Thursday on homes occupied by James Zitting and William “Bill” Shapley, who are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, nearly three weeks after they received letters demanding tax payments on the Colorado City, Ariz., residences.
Shapley is a member of the Colorado City Town Council and former manager of the community’s grocery store. One of his daughters provided grand jury testimony that led to sex crime charges against Randolph Barlow; his trial is scheduled to begin July 5.
Zitting is a church insider and former trustee of the FLDS church’s United Effort Plan Trust, which holds virtually all land and buildings in Colorado City and the adjoining Utah town of Hildale.
A Utah court placed the trust under the management of fiduciary Bruce R. Wisan 13 months ago after the FLDS church failed to respond to lawsuits that targeted its assets. Wisan and his advisory board will meet today in Salt Lake City to consider proposals to settle those three lawsuits.
Wisan is going house to house to persuade residents to pay off past-due property taxes, which FLDS members let languish after the trust’s takeover. He has been told that fugitive FLDS leader Warren S. Jeff had told followers to “answer them nothing.”
But residents began buckling after receiving Wisan’s tax demand notices. The collection effort has whittled the sum owed to Washington County from $295,000 to $17,950, according to a county accounting specialist. Of $1.1 million owed to Arizona’s Mohave County, nearly $500,000 remains due.
Wisan began seeking tax payments on homes in April, initially targeting the community’s largest homes and those occupied by FLDS leaders. Zitting and Shapley are the only occupants who have failed to pay after getting a demand notice from Wisan.
Now, they have five days to pay the taxes or leave their homes.
“I want to maintain my momentum and keep my credibility,” Wisan said.
Meanwhile, the effort to get property tax payments from FLDS residents is ramping up. On Monday, Isaac Wyler, an ex-FLDS member working for Wisan, began posting demand notices on about 240 homes in Hildale. He will then move to Colorado City to post notices on the nearly 500 homes there.