Records show Detroit's new emergency manager had tax liens on his home in Maryland

DETROIT – The auto-industry turnaround expert picked to steer Detroit back from the brink of financial ruin had tax liens on his Maryland home, records show.

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s new emergency financial manager, had two outstanding liens on his $1 million home in Chevy Chase, Md., for $16,000 in unemployment taxes in 2010 and 2011, The Detroit News reported Saturday. The Maryland state records also show that two other liens of more than $16,000 in unemployment and income taxes were satisfied in 2010 and 2011.

Orr, a partner in the Cleveland-based law firm of Jones Day who represented Chrysler during its successful restructuring, was appointed Detroit’s financial manager by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday.

Orr said Friday he didn’t know anything about the liens when shown the records by the News. On Saturday, the Washington, D.C., bankruptcy attorney said he now is paid up on state liens.

“It’s on me — it’s something that fell through the cracks,” Orr told the Detroit Free Press.

Orr, 54, apologized for the oversight, saying he always tries to be attentive to such matters and wasn’t aware of the liens until he was notified about them on Friday.

“It’s remarkably embarrassing,” Orr said. “I called and paid it up Friday. I wanted to make sure I addressed it as soon as I could.”

Sara Wurfel, a spokeswoman for Snyder, said the governor’s office wasn’t aware of the liens until the News asked about them.

“It did not come up in any of the vetting,” she said.

Critics of the emergency manager said the liens are troubling, because one of Orr’s jobs will be to improve Detroit’s tax-collecting operations.

Detroit is saddled with a $327 million budget deficit and more than $14 billion in long-term debt. City records estimate that Detroit collected $32 million less in income taxes than it was owed in 2011.

“It’s quite interesting that (Orr) feels he could manage the city of Detroit, and he’s having trouble managing his own affairs,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the National Action Network of Michigan and an opponent of Orr’s appointment.