A Salt Lake City accountant overseeing the United Effort Plan Trust has appealed to jailed polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs for help getting property taxes paid this year in the community’s twin towns.
Fiduciary Bruce R. Wisan sent a personal letter to Jeffs, who is incarcerated at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, asking him to instruct followers to pay the taxes and avoid the expensive, confrontational door-to-door posting that was necessary last year.
Jeffs is leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, based in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. He is awaiting trial on being an accomplice to rape for marrying an underage girl to an older man in a spiritual ceremony.
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“I know that if you asked the FLDS people to properly and expeditiously pay their property taxes to their respective counties, it would happen,” Wisan said in his Oct. 24 letter. “It appears to me that the FLDS people listen to your instructions in all things.”
So far, he has had no response to that letter or a previous one addressed to Jeffs and three other FLDS leaders. Wisan was appointed by a judge to oversee the UEP, which owns most of the property in the towns.
The first round of taxes – $609,128.28 is due Tuesday in Mohave County, Ariz. – has not yet been received, Wisan said. The Mohave County Treasurer’s Office confirmed Monday that none of the taxes have been paid.
Taxes are due in Utah by Nov. 30; the 2005 bill was $261,475.
Last year, Wisan first instructed residents to hold off on paying taxes until completion of a survey to subdivide the community into individual lots. As the challenges of the survey became apparent, Wisan appealed to residents to pay up.
When that didn’t happen, he resorted to posting each home in the community with a tax demand notice threatening eviction. Wisan has said he was told that Jeffs had directed his followers to “answer them nothing” as far as the operation of the UEP, an instruction that included not paying their taxes.
But taxes trickled in after each home was posted, a task that was costly, sometimes involved police, and triggered numerous confrontations.
“I see no practical benefit from either the FLDS side or from the UEP side in handling property taxes in such manner,” Wisan said in his letter.
The survey, which would have allowed individual tax notices to be sent directly to each home, is still not complete. So Wisan is asking occupants of each home to make the same payment as last year to the counties.