By David Skolnick
Mayoral candidate DeMaine Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary, has delinquent tax issues and other financial problems dating back to 2005.
“Those were issues then and not issues now; they’re resolved,” Kitchen said Thursday. “The public deserves an answer, but the public under- stands it’s an issue of personal finance and not public distrust.”
Among his financial problems, totaling at least $12,979.99, was a 2007 foreclosure on his former house at 3302 Castalia Ave., which was purchased by his father, and numerous garnishments for failing to pay First USA Bank, Home Savings and Loan Co., the state Department of Taxation, Mahoning County for property taxes on his current house at 77 Struthers Liberty Road, and even the city of Youngstown for not paying income taxes.
“I had a difficult financial time in the mid-2000s, and I’m not shying away from those problems,” said Kitchen, an independent candidate for mayor. “During the bad times of the mid-2000s, I was working a commission-based job, had one income to support a wife and three kids. There’s no excuses. It is what it is.”
Kitchen failed to pay $4,570.25 in property taxes and interest on his East Side home since August 2011. Among that amount is $2,394.08 in delinquent taxes, which includes $336.23 in interest. Kitchen said he made the $2,394.08 payment Thursday and will pay the rest in the next few months.
Kitchen said, “It was my assumption the tax payment was included” in his mortgage payment.
When asked if he checked his monthly mortgage statements to see if property taxes were included, Kitchen said he “has a stack of mail” and “never opened” his mortgage statements.
“I just sent it every month,” he said. “It’s my responsibility. I assumed it was part of my [mortgage] payment.”
Among his financial problems that made it to county common pleas and city municipal courts are:
$478.05 to the city for unpaid income tax.
The city filed a claim in municipal court May 14, 2009, against Kitchen and his wife, Leslie. The two failed to appear for court hearings in May and June of that year, and Magistrate Anthony Sertick ruled in favor of the city through default judgment with Kitchen’s wages, when he worked at Western Southern Life Insurance, garnished to pay the amount. It was paid in full June 9, 2010.
$4,277.03 to First USA Bank, filed Feb. 9, 2006. Kitchen said he believes that was for money he owed on a credit card. Also through garnished wages, it was paid off Aug. 18, 2007.
$3,685.34 to Home Savings, filed Oct. 16, 2007. Kitchen said he thought this was for an overdrawn bank account. It was paid off through garnished wages that ended March 24, 2010.
$193.32 to the Ohio Department of Taxation for state income tax, filed April 15, 2005. Kitchen said he paid the back taxes, but the county common pleas court’s website still lists the case as “open.”
Wells Fargo Bank filed a foreclosure notice May 9, 2007 on his former house on Castalia Avenue in which Kitchen and his wife owed $40,817.69 dating back to Nov. 1, 2006. The case was dismissed Aug. 21, 2007. Kitchen said his father purchased the house.
John McNally IV, the Democratic nominee for mayor, said, “If you’re a public official, you’ve got to comply with those rules and pay your taxes. Everybody has financial problems. If you’re an elected official, you’ve got to be on top of those things.”
During Thursday’s mayoral debate, Bob Black, news anchor for 21 WFMJ-TV and one of the event’s panelists, asked about Kitchen’s financial issues and as mayor shouldn’t he lead by example. Kitchen said, like others, he has gone through financial hardships.