NAUGATUCK — A woman running for burgess owes more than $5,900 in car taxes to the borough.
Smokey Regan, 51, of 57 Mistywood Lane, has unpaid bills between 2004 and 2009 for seven different cars, according to records provided by the borough tax collector’s office.
In response to a request from the Republican-American, the office checked the real estate and motor vehicle tax bills of all Democratic and Republican candidates for municipal office. Regan was the only candidate who owed taxes, according to Tax Collector James Goggin.
Records show Regan, a Republican, owes a total of $5,941.18. She managed to re-register at least one car in 2006 by writing a bad check for $1,325.84, records show.
Regan said some of the cars have been sold or junked and that she disputes the precise amount owed, but admits she owes taxes. She said she knew about the money owed but decided to run for burgess anyway. If she is elected, she said, she will use her $3,300 yearly stipend to pay the outstanding balance.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to live in Naugatuck,” Regan said. “I have every intention of paying my taxes.”
Tax records show that Regan has not owned a car since 2009. Regan said she has been borrowing cars belonging to her husband, or her sons, to get around.
She said she did not know she had insufficient funds to support the 2006 check and could not remember whether she ever noticed it had bounced.
Regan said she did not remember the exact models of all the cars she owes taxes on. A 1995 Ford pickup truck was being driven by one of her sons until he sold it, but the ownership was never properly transferred, Regan said.
The rest were sedans — a 1994 Ford, a 1998 Dodge, a 2000 Audi, a 2001 Chrysler that ended up with a blown engine, a 1998 Volkswagen that Regan sold to her father-in-law, and a 2000 Lexus.
Goggin said two different collection agencies have attempted to collect taxes from Regan. His records contain a note that one agency could not collect $168.27 in bills dating back to 2004 because she gave them a “difficult time.”
Regan said no collection agency or state marshal had ever contacted her about her taxes. She said she called the tax office last year and asked for a detailed breakdown of what she owes, so she could present bills of sale to dispute some of the charges. Regan said she never received paper copies of the bills.
According to state law, residents are responsible for paying taxes regardless of whether they ever got bills.
Regan said she is currently unemployed. She is a licensed massage therapist but is not getting much business in these economic times, she said. She had been a district administrative manager for CORT Furniture Rental, based out of Stratford, but lost her job when the company downsized, she said. Neither she nor her husband own the house they live in, which Regan said they rent.
Before she remarried in 2005, Regan said she was raising her three sons on her own. Regan said she is now paying toward college tuition for one of them, who attends an out-of-state school.
Regan said she deserved to be elected for burgess despite her outstanding bills because she is committed to speaking out against what she sees as runaway spending in the borough. She is against the $81 million high school renovation, the $2 million purchase of General DataComm property, the $5 million Cross Street reconstruction project and the overall spending increases in the past few budgets.
Regan said if taxes in the borough weren’t so high, she might be in a better situation.
“Maybe I’d have a job because businesses would be here and they’d want to hire me, but there are no businesses here,” Regan said. “There are no jobs … and it’s because of a spending trend that we’re in this mess and I want to stop it.”
Several Republicans voted against endorsing Regan for burgess at last week’s town committee meeting, but not enough to force a roll-call vote. Regan sent town committee members a letter about two weeks ago disclosing her tax situation, so everyone was fully aware going into the meeting, Chairwoman Dorothy Hoff said.
Hoff said she wanted to let the committee as a whole decide whether to nominate Regan.
“I’m not advocating the endorsement of candidates who have not paid their taxes,” Hoff said.
Hoff said she voted for Regan because she wanted to endorse the entire slate of candidates.
“We need people who are sympathetic to people who are struggling,” Hoff said.