Joe Nelson and Josh Dulaney, Staff Writers
Posted: 11/01/2011 05:59:53 PM PDT

Embattled San Bernardino International Airport developer Scot Spencer has racked up roughly $545,876 in delinquent property taxes since 2005, of which $31,618 has been seized by the county tax collector.

According to records provided by the county Tax Collector’s Office, Spencer began defaulting on his property taxes in 2005, when he first contracted to develop the airport. He owes $194,140 from that year, records show.

Spencer, who did not return repeated telephone calls seeking comment, continued that trajectory over the next four years. He now owes a total of $544,876, officials said. Last week, collections officers seized $31,617.51 from Spencer.

County Tax Collector Larry Walker said the taxes Spencer owes – unsecured property taxes – are the most difficult to collect.

“We’ve been able to get $30,000 from Mr. Spencer or related entities,” Walker said, “and we’re going to continue to work every possible option in terms of attempting to collect the full obligation from him.”

An unsecured property tax is one that is not secured by real property such as a piece of land, and liability falls solely on the person or entity assessed for the tax.

Spencer’s back taxes are for space and equipment, including aircraft, at a hangar at 255 S. Leland Norton Way.

As of Tuesday, Spencer had made no additional payments to the Tax Collector’s Office, said Matt Brown, assistant tax collector.

Property tax is not the only financial problem facing Spencer, who served five years in a federal prison for bankruptcy fraud involving a former soured airport deal.

According to Mike Burrows, the assistant airport director, Spencer owes roughly $650,000 in rent on buildings and hangars at the airport, including Million Air, the Houston-based provider of terminal and fueling services for private aircraft.

“It’s pretty substantial and we’re obviously working to enforce those contracts,” Burrows said. “We’ve got late fees and interest charges.”

Burrows said the airport has begun the process of working through the rental agreements, each of which have their own timelines for settlement, given the terms and conditions.

“Then our commission,” he said, referring to the San Bernardino International Airport Authority board, “will need to make a decision about what enforcement actions they’ll need to take.”

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