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Five Waterford candidates had overdue town tax bills

By Johanna Somers

Publication: The Day

Published September 07. 2013 4:00AM
After interview, one candidate paid town $6,003.07

Waterford - Five Republicans and one Democrat running for municipal office in November had outstanding town property tax balances ranging from $120 to $23,138 as of Thursday, according to the city tax collector's office.

The chairwoman of both the Republican Town Committee and the Board of Education, Kathleen McCarty, owed $23,138 in property taxes and interest for a house at 226 Great Neck Road. She and her husband, Edward McCarty, are listed as the owners. Property tax payments first were delinquent in August 2012.

McCarty, who is seeking another term on the school board, said her situation is "kind of unique" and that "we have had a hardship."

"Believe me, if I had the money, it would have been long paid. It is out of my control," she said.

An incumbent Republican candidate for the Zoning Board of Appeals, Erich Peter Bendfeldt, has been delinquent on real estate property taxes for 2B Lane for four years, said Mark Burnham, the town's tax collector. Bendfeldt made a payment in May 2012 and a couple of payments in July, he said. But Bendfeldt still owes $15,599 in back taxes, which includes $16 in motor vehicle taxes. Bendfeldt could not be reached by phone on Friday.

Another incumbent Republican candidate for the Zoning Board of Appeals, Barbara Panciera, paid off the overdue taxes on property at 14 Riverside Drive on Friday after speaking with a reporter Thursday.

"I paid my taxes before 9 a.m. this morning," she said in a voicemail on Friday, "$6,003.07, and that included everything."

On Thursday evening, Panciera said that she and her husband lived on limited income and that she had some other bills that had to be paid. Real estate taxes are paid in two installments, due on July 1 and on Jan. 1, but there is a month-long grace period before a taxpayer is considered delinquent.

"I am sure I am not the only one in town," Panciera said. "It is tough out there, and to be penalized for 35 days. If I owed taxes for a year, I would say, 'Shame on you,' but 35 days."

She added, "There is only so much money you get. I am at the mercy of this town and their taxes. They got the health insurance, the pension, the schools, bonding, and all we do is pay for things that are never ending. We are not getting a break."

An incumbent Republican candidate for the Representative Town Meeting, Leon Goss, owed $743 for multiple vehicles and real estate at 21 Goshen Road. He first became delinquent in February. Goss could not be reached by phone on Friday.

Incumbent Republican candidate for the RTM Craig Merriman owed $325 in back taxes for a vehicle and became delinquent last month. Merriman could not be reached by phone on Friday.

Incumbent Democrat candidate for Board of Education, Jessica McLaughlin, owes $120 in back taxes for a vehicle and also became delinquent in August. McLaughlin said the overdue taxes are from a car that doesn't work and isn't worth the amount that has been assessed. She said she would like to get rid of it, but her daughter still owes money on it. She said she plans to appeal the assessment.

"I didn't pay it on purpose. It is not worth five grand or $4,800 or whatever they said it is worth," McLaughlin said.

McCarty said Friday that a candidate's failure to pay taxes ought to be weighed in light of circumstances.

"We don't know what is going on in the person's private life," she said.

j.somers@theday.com

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