GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – A disabled army veteran is fighting to keep the Greenville County home he was told he was getting for free. Tuesday, Andrew Mitchell pled before county council trying to keep a roof above his head.
“I served 14 months in Iraq and 12 months in Afghanistan. I was injured there and I was medically retired from the US Army in 2013,” Mitchell told 7 News Reporter, Addie Hampton, Tuesday.
That same year, Mitchell moved his family to Greenville. Their home mortgage was taken care of by a national non-profit called Military Warrior Support Foundation, with the agreement that Mitchell would make monthly payments to the foundation that would pay the property taxes for three years. Their contract states that after three years of property tax payments made in full, the deed would be in Mitchell’s name.
“We are the homeowners for all intents and purposes. Military Warriors holds the deed to the home, so it’s a very unique situation,” Mitchell explained.
The monthly payment Mitchell paid was estimated by the foundation at 4%. That’s what state law says a homeowner should pay, but, because Warrior Support owns multiple properties they paid a 6 percent rate.
Now, there’s a gap.
“Over the course of three years, the total has added up to about 6700 dollars,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell is on the hook to pay that amount in full by May or potentially lose his house.
7 News spoke to Military Warrior Support Foundation, Tuesday, about the issue. They said it wasn’t something they caught until the three years were nearly up. They said they pay what comes in to their office in Texas. They have offered the family a longer time to pay this rate.
According to Mitchell’s attorney, Robert Merting, the problem is the foundation would still be deed holders into this next tax year, should they take an extension and that compounds this 4% and 6% issue that much longer.
Mitchell said he’s optimistic Greenville County Council can correct the tax rate for himself and two other families in the same boat.
Local veteran advocate, Roy Harmon, is helping in the fight.
“We want the systemic problem to be resolved. No one is getting anything for free. We want to see them getting the rate that’s appropriate,” he said.
Tuesday afternoon before the council meeting, Greenville County administration told 7 News their hands are tied.
“It is a state issue. Our hands are tied on this because we cannot change state code,” said Spokesman, Bob Mihalic.
7 News took this issue to state Representative Mike Burns.
“This really needs to be settled legally because there’s going to be other families equally affected by this and I understand there may be a couple more already,” said Burns. “We need to get policy set so we don’t have to have a resolution every time one of these issues happen.”
Burns said he’s willing to champion legislation that could resolve this permanently.
“I don’t know how far this thing is going to go, but for our veterans, we’re prepared for the long haul,” he said.
Burns said he organized a meeting, Tuesday, with the department of revenue and Greenville County leaders. The DOR believes there’s enough latitude within the law to adjust the tax rate, considering that all records indicate Mr. Mitchell will be the eventual home owner.