He says he'll repay the family loan next month by cashing in a retirement annuity.

The Sun also identified 450 owners who are receiving two credits. The state Department of Assessments and Taxation says it's in the process of sending verification letters to those owners. They'll have 30 days to offer a valid explanation before any credits are removed — a step that would, in turn, lead to higher tax bills.

One city resident on the hook is Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conaway Sr., who now owes $3,640 going back to 2007 for a house he owns in the 3900 block of Bareva Road, according to city records. For years Conaway got a homestead break on the home, even though he lives on Liberty Heights Avenue.

Conaway did not return calls Tuesday. But when contacted by a Sun reporter in August, after it emerged that he had two homestead credits, he said he had no idea he was receiving breaks on both his home and the Bareva property, which he rents out.

A mayoral candidate at the time, he said he immediately began trying to pay but received conflicting advice from city tax collectors and the state assessments agency, which administers the credit. "I tried to pay it today, but they wouldn't let me," Conaway said Aug. 23. "Nobody wanted to take the money."

Raymond, the finance official, said Tuesday that the city does want to take Conaway's money. And as of Jan. 1, he'll owe even more, because interest and penalties are assessed monthly.

Raymond says he's not interested in owners' particular circumstances. A misapplied homestead credit is the homeowner's problem, not the city's, he said. And if they owe taxes, they have to pay. The back story doesn't matter, he said.

"It's just like if your kid is in third grade. Your kid stayed up until midnight and did his homework. The other kid said the dog ate his homework. Does that kid get a pass when everybody knew homework was due the next day?

"In this case, whether they knew or not, there are sanctions."

scott.calvert@baltsun.com

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts