It is time to take a good look at our city, our politicians, and our future. When you look at the roads, infrastructure, and schools, do you get a good feeling? Now, take a good look at the politicians and city administrators running this mess. We have a financial disaster on our hands and a lot of unfinished projects.
In 2013, the Mayor of Columbus introduced the city to his former campaign manager, Jabari Edwards and J5. The cost to us citizens was a base retainer of $90,000 a year, plus six percent of all city projects, thus creating a city manager in addition to a chief operating officer. The contract doesn’t have a renewal date, only an out clause. Who on the council has ever questioned Mr. Edwards ability to manage city projects? Who on the council monitors the job of J5 does and whether that is, or ever was, money well spent? It’s the city council’s job to enter into contractual agreements, but who enters a contract without an end date or a renewal date without reviewing it over the years? The city politicians just keep handing J5 our tax dollars.
The Commercial Dispatch headline on April 24, 2019 revealed Mr. Edwards’ companies owed around $688,000 in federal tax liens. Mr. Edwards stated he chose to pay his employees instead of the IRS. His companies now have in excess of $1,800,000 to the IRS in tax liens. (These are for J5, J5 Industrial, and North Atlantic Security.) There could possibly be more waiting to be filed.
Much of the debt to the IRS is from employee withholdings that was not paid to the IRS. An employer is trusted with pay withheld from employees. When an employer willingly fails to repay those payments, the employer may face felony charges under section 7702.
Most of these taxes were due before COVID-19. Adding to that is the local property taxes Mr. Edwards has not paid. Some of these are with BH Properties, which Mr. Edwards owns. Based on public records as of February 16, 2021, the total of his delinquent property taxes on over 20 pieces of property are over $20,000. Our fire department was ordered to burn houses for Mr. Edwards with our tax dollars, while he doesn’t pay his.
The debts owed to the IRS may lead one to conclude Mr. Edwards is not a good manager of his own business. How would that reflect on his ability to manage the business of Columbus?
These public records are available to anyone. For recorded liens go to the Chancery Clerk’s website and property taxes go to the Tax Assessor’s website.
Columbus deserves better.
Editor’s note: The author of this letter is the Will Sanders closely affiliated with A Better Columbus, not the Will Sanders who is director of the Lowndes County Port Authority.