Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conaway Sr. has paid more than $3,600 in back property taxes on a rental home he owns, months after it emerged that he'd wrongly been receiving a homestead tax break on the house for years.

"I was very happy to pay it, to tell you the truth," he said Tuesday. "If I owed it, I wanted to pay it."

Conaway paid the bill Dec. 21, the same day city finance officials were quoted in a Baltimore Sun article saying they were still awaiting a check from him. Conaway says that's the first time he knew how much money he owed.

The money covering several years of taxes became due after he lost the homestead break on the home in the 3900 block of Bareva Road. Interest and penalties accounted for $842 of the $3,641 he paid, according to the city.

In August, Conaway told a reporter he had no idea he was receiving breaks on both the Bareva property, which he rents out, and his residence on Liberty Heights Avenue. An individual is entitled to only one homestead credit, and it must be the person's principal residence.

"I wasn't trying to get away with not paying taxes or taking a credit I should not have," he said Tuesday. "That's kind of ridiculous. Had I known earlier, I could have saved myself a lot of money."

A mayoral candidate at the time, he said he immediately began trying to pay but "nobody wanted to take the money." Conaway says the city never sent him a revised bill — a claim disputed by finance officials.

"We have mailed the revised bills," Henry Raymond, deputy finance director, said in December. "Any time we make an adjustment to the account, a revised bill's automatically generated."

scott.calvert@baltsun.com

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