Newly-elected Van Buren mayor going to court, allegedly owed back taxes

Van Buren residents seek answers to recent mayoral election dispute

VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) - The new mayor of Van Buren, Missouri will have his day in court.

Michael Hoernor is accused of signing an affidavit claiming he didn't owe back taxes when he ran for mayor.

A judge ruled there is enough evidence to go to trial on accusations that he did in fact owe back taxes, and might not be eligible to be the town's mayor.

Voters elected him in April.

Hoernor is a life-long Van Buren resident. He owns a towing and repair business and said he has big plans for the town.

"I think I can make a change for all of our kids in school coming up, I think I can make a change, more jobs in the city, make Van Buren better and happy again," Hoernor said.

"I filed the taxes like they told me to and I got another letter March 10, stating that I owed the income tax," Hoernor continued.

He, along with the county clerk, received letters from the Department of Revenue saying he owed taxes and may be disqualified if he didn't pay. He said he's since taken care of it and hasn't heard from the DOR since then.

City Clerk Gerri Flatt said the issue is not a personal one.

Flatt said they're trying to follow the rules and there's still a question of whether or not Hoernor was a valid candidate for mayor as, according to the DOR, he owed taxes at the time of filing and possibly also at the time of the election.

The issue is the talk of the town. Some people wanting to get to the bottom of the tax issue and others wanting to move on.

"Bottom line is, the majority of the votes won and that's where we need to stand at," Rick Drummond said.

"He won by a majority and that's pretty well sound," Brian Keathley said.

Many folks are asking, "Why now?"

"If there was a problem with the taxes, which no one knows if there was not, it should have been let out before the election," Drummond said.

The decision as to whether or not Hoerner will be mayor was up to a judge.

"I hope in 10 days I'll be the leader of Van Buren, the city mayor," Hoerner said back in April.

The county clerk said the ballots had already been printed and absentee voting had started when they received the letter about the tax issues from the Department of Revenue.

City officials say they didn't know how to handle the situation because they've never dealt with this issue. That's why they turned it over to the courts.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.