Tampa councilman’s paycheck garnished for unpaid enterprise debt | Tampa Bay Information | Tampa

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Metropolis of Tampa

Councilchair Joe Citro at a Jan. 5 Tampa Metropolis Council assembly.

Court docket paperwork present {that a} financial institution is garnishing the wage of Tampa’s metropolis council chairman for unpaid loans used for his private enterprise.

As of August 2022, Councilman Joe Citro owed $20,035 to Financial institution of America, Hillsborough County court docket paperwork present. The lawsuit says that Citro took out loans for his hairdresser enterprise and didn’t pay them again.

A financial institution assertion from 2018, which was included within the paperwork, exhibits that the financial institution was attempting to gather the previous owed debt from Citro earlier than taking authorized motion. However when none of it was paid, the financial institution filed a lawsuit in opposition to him in 2019.

Now, the financial institution is garnishing his metropolis councilman wage—which is paid for by Tampa taxpayers—and the Metropolis of Tampa is called as a garnishee within the case.

Citro, who’s working for District 1 reelection in March, informed Inventive Loafing Tampa Bay he would’ve paid the loans sooner and utilizing the earnings from his private enterprise if it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID hit me and my enterprise very onerous,” Citro mentioned. “I needed to shut down for months. And I didn’t get any reduction from any kind of state, federal, county or metropolis packages. This isn’t one thing that I am pleased with, however it’s one thing that I am getting by means of.”

Citro mentioned that he’s virtually paid off his debt by means of his councilman paycheck and that he was going to name the collections firm to see if he may repay the remainder of it immediately.

However court docket paperwork present that as of final August, Citro had paid not one of the sum that he owed. He mentioned that since then, he’s paid off almost all the owed quantity.

When requested if he thought if it was correct that his councilman wage needs to be used to repay loans taken out for his personal enterprise, Citro mentioned that he wasn’t the one who selected that. He mentioned that the plaintiff and the choose determined the place the funds could be garnished from. CL has requested Lavin & Solis, PLLC, the agency representing Financial institution of America, to substantiate this. CL additionally requested for affirmation on how a lot cash Citro nonetheless owes.

Tampa’s metropolis lawyer’s workplace mentioned that Citro did not resolve on the place the garnished wages would come from. The authorized crew mentioned it was the creditor, Financial institution of America, that selected to garnish his metropolis wages.

“Neither Citro nor town had any management over that,” Tampa’s Communications Director Adam Smith wrote in an e-mail.

Final 12 months, when metropolis council voted on a possible pay increase for themselves, Citro argued in opposition to a increase and mentioned, “Heck no!” throughout a vote on the difficulty. The movement failed.

Citro was appointed to council chair final 12 months, after allegations from a former worker of councilman Orlando Gudes surfaced, and the place of chair was handed from Gudes to Citro. The lawsuit in opposition to Gudes was later dismissed in Hillsborough County court docket, however not earlier than the Metropolis paid the previous worker $200,000.

Based on town constitution, if Mayor Jane Castor had been ever unable to serve in her place, Citro, the council chair, would step in to meet mayoral duties.

To date, Citro has three opponents working in opposition to him for his council seat: Sonja P Brooking, Alan Clendenin and Chase Harrsion.

When requested for another ideas on his wages being garnished, Citro mentioned that this sort of factor can occur to anybody.

“No one’s life is ideal,” Citro mentioned. “We’re all human.”

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