NIAGARA FALLS – One incumbent running for the city School Board owes more than $45,000 in unpaid taxes and is close to having his water shut off.
The other incumbent was delinquent on his city taxes for the past three years.
A third candidate served federal prison time for tax fraud.
They are half of the candidates on the ballot for voters in Tuesday’s School Board election. They are seeking a five-year term overseeing a district with a $125 million budget.
The federal and state governments are pursuing incumbent Kevin Dobbs for more than $45,000 in unpaid taxes, according to public documents on file in the Niagara County Clerk’s Office.
The IRS placed a tax lien in the amount of $35,257.54 on property owned by Dobbs and his wife, Norschenia P. Payne, in September of last year.
A tax warrant for $10,586.54 was issued by the state Department of Taxation and Finance in November 2011.
Dobbs, who has served on the board since 1997, said the situation arose after he dipped into his 401k account.
His income “hadn’t been that great,” and things “just snowballed,” he told The Buffalo News.
It all stemmed from not paying enough tax when he withdrew from his 401k, then penalties and interest built up, he said.
“I paid so many taxes on it, and I thought I had paid enough taxes,” Dobbs said. “It wound up that I didn’t pay enough taxes.”
Dobbs is pastor of Christ Redemption Tabernacle at 22nd and Niagara streets, which he said he purchased in 2010.
Dobbs said he has set up a payment plan with the state and has been making payments on his debts. The money he was owed from his most recent state tax return was applied to what he owes, he said.
“I’ve been doing everything I can,” Dobbs said.
Water bills at Dobbs’ Seymour Avenue home haven’t been paid in more than a year, according to the Niagara Falls Water Board. The property is on the board’s shutoff list.
Dobbs downplayed what he believes his tax situation should mean to voters.
“I don’t think it would affect my ability to sit on the School Board,” he said.
Incumbent Don J. King, who has been on the board for more than 30 years, has recently caught up on back taxes he owed the city, according to the City Comptroller’s Office.
It wasn’t until this April that King paid the portion that remained of his 2010 and all of his 2011 city taxes.
King paid his delinquent 2012 city taxes just this week, in the amount of $1,032, the Comptroller’s Office said.
He is currently not delinquent on any city taxes.
King is also being sued by Capital One Bank for $3,202, according to public records on file in the Niagara County Clerk’s Office.
City records also indicate King does not pay any city school taxes because of the state’s STAR exemption program.
King did not respond to phone messages left more than two days.
Michael S. Gawel, a certified public accountant who was sentenced to 17 months in federal prison for tax fraud and money laundering in 1995, had a state tax warrant for $252 issued against him in August 2005.
Gawel said the warrant was over unpaid sales tax from his business and said he paid it the next month. County records show the state officially recorded the payment of the debt that November.
Gawel, who was elected to the City Council before his prison stint, said the prison time has no effect on his ability to govern.
“That was a long time ago,” he said.