Sheriff's Dept. to Sell Councilman's House for Unpaid Debt

5:48 PM, Dec 12, 2013   |    comments
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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The High Point City Councilman who owed more than $30,000 to the city he runs could lose his house to settle that old debt.

Ironically, it's the same house where his neighbors told us they've never seen the councilman or anyone else.

Next Tuesday, the Sheriff's Department will auction off Foster Douglas' house at the Guilford County Courthouse. It may be the conclusion to a drawn-out lawsuit that started in 2003.

In August, the Sheriff's Department served Douglas papers outside a High Point City Council meeting ordering him to pay his $32,000 debt to the city. But he still hasn't paid the bill he's owed for a decade.

So next week, the Sheriff's Department will sell his house on South Scientific Street to the highest bidder.

On Monday, WFMY News 2's Chad Silber talked to Douglas on the phone. "It will not go up for sale," said Douglas. About the debt he said, "It is being paid."

The city wants to use the house to pay off the debt.

Back in 2003, a federal judge ordered Douglas and his brother to pay up after they lost a lawsuit against the city. At the time, the tab was just under $20,000, but with a decade's worth of interest, it's increased to $32,000.

In August, he blamed the whole ordeal on city manager Strib Boynton. "So as the manager says this is, that is, this is all about me not wanting to pay the city of my brother not wanting to pay the city, that is absolutely not true," said Douglas.

"A lot of times people, when they kind of have their back against a wall, will start casting dispersions against everybody else," said High Point City Manager Strib Boynton. "And if that's what Mr. Douglas prefers to do, it's his prerogative to do that."

Councilman Douglas has continued to tell us he will pay off the debt, but he's only paid $400. That payment was made last week.

There's some mystery surrounding Douglas' house, even where he lives. In a recent interview, his neighbor Tania Harris said, "I don't know if I've ever seen a car there, maybe a couple years ago I remember seeing a car going in and out."

Other High Point City Council members didn't want to comment on the situation because they didn't know the full details surrounding the sale.

That sale will happen at 10am next Tuesday on the upper ground level of the Guilford County Courthouse.

His debt came back into the spotlight in August when he asked the High Point City Council for $2,500 for a council-related trip. He is a resident of High Point, according to his address, but we found out he works in Hampton, Virginia, about 280 miles away.

Douglas has missed about half of the council meetings since January. Working on the Council is considered a part-time job and Douglas isn't required to attend every meeting. Douglas became a Councilman in 2008. Over the course of his tenure, the city's paid him $60,000 in salary and benefits.

Update: The city of High Point has hired attorney Bruce Ashley. Ashley said, 
"I'm pretty sure Mr. Douglas and his brother do not want this to happen. But, we have gotten limited responses to date, none of which anywhere near what appears to be a serious effort to resolve things...There have been some minor efforts to work out a payment plan, but it's too late to do that, we believe. Any payment plan would need to be a substantial amount to the debt paid."

WFMY News 2

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