Some East Lyme candidates owe taxes

East Lyme - Several candidates in the upcoming municipal elections owed property taxes to the town as of Sept. 3, according to the tax collector's office.

In Connecticut, the first of two annual property tax payments is due July 1, with a grace period to the end of the month. Candidates who could be reached this week said in interviews that they intend to pay the bills or follow up on issues.

Rosanna Carabelas, a Democrat running for town clerk, said she is paying monthly installments toward a real estate tax payment that was due in July, which stood this week at $1,240.75, until it is paid in full by the end of December.

She last paid a $375 installment toward the real estate taxes on Sept. 4, according to the tax collector. Carabelas said this is the first time since moving back to Niantic 13 years ago that she was late on property taxes, and is current on all other taxes. Carabelas said she was laid off from Pfizer in 2009 and was unemployed for four years before finding a job at Wesleyan University in November 2012.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I am one of the most honest individuals you could ever meet and have served my community for several years, both on commissions and through St. Agnes Church," she said in an email. "I am sure that I am not the only person who has ever fallen on tough economic times and I have every intention to become current with my taxes as soon as possible."

A bill for $706.62 for a motor vehicle owned in the name of Selectman Mark Nickerson and his wife Marlene Nickerson, a member of the Board of Education, due July 25, was paid Wednesday, according to Tax Collector John McCulloch. Mark Nickerson had said Tuesday he would check on the issue, which he said was caused by a glitch.

Both husband and wife are Republican incumbents in the upcoming election.

Mark Nickerson explained in a second interview Thursday that he paid all his tax bills for cars and his house in full when they became due at the regular billing period of July 1. But an error by the Department of Motor Vehicles listed one car as registered in another town. After the DMV fixed the registration, a supplemental bill for that car was issued on July 25, but he said he thought he had already paid everything.

Board of Finance Chairman Raymond Hart, a Republican who owes $639.65, including interest, for several motor vehicles and personal property, and Matthew J. Walker, a Republican incumbent on the Zoning Commission who owes $405.75, including interest, in taxes on motor vehicles, could not immediately be reached for comment at their listed phone numbers.

James Liska, a Republican who is running to serve another term as an alternate on the Zoning Commission, owes $354.77 including interest on a motor vehicle. He said Wednesday that he thought he had already paid it but would pay the overdue bill now that it had been brought to his attention.

Two other candidates who owed taxes earlier this month have paid in full.

Ernest Covino, a Republican incumbent for the Planning Commission, had paid all taxes by Tuesday: $383.07 in taxes for motor vehicles, including a vehicle to which he said he recently transferred registration and wasn't aware taxes were due, and $95.91 in personal property taxes for Covino's Groceria Italiana.

"It came due in July," he said as he paid one of the bills in the tax collector's office, "and I'm here to pay it."

Robert J. Kupis, a Republican candidate for the Board of Education, paid $42.09 in motor vehicle taxes on Monday. He said Wednesday the taxes were on a truck he sold about a year ago, and the bill was sent to his older address, where the truck was previously registered.


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