City official: Council candidate owes $21K in back taxes

  • Dan Guin at a 2005 town council meeting. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The 497 Mohawk Trail property, which includes the Longview Tower, is one of the properties owned by Precinct 2 City Council candidate Daniel Guin. However, the city has a lien on the property due to back taxes, and is in the process of foreclosing on it. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 11/1/2019 10:51:49 PM
Modified: 11/1/2019 10:51:34 PM

GREENFIELD — Throughout this week, the Greenfield Recorder published candidate Q and As from both City Council and School Committee candidates. All of the candidates completed the forms, except for Daniel Guin, the only Precinct 2 City Council candidate in this year’s election.

Questions asked of the candidates included, “Are you up-to-date on your property taxes? Have you ever been delinquent on your payments?” Based on information obtained through a public records request submitted by the Recorder, Guin is not up-to-date on all of his taxes.

Guin currently owes the city $21,435.87, according to Kelly Varner, Greenfield’s treasurer and tax collector. Specifically, he owes $21,337.03 on 497 Mohawk Trail (plot number R37-30) and $98.84 on adjacent land that’s also on Route 2 (R37-37). The assessor’s office values Guin’s Precinct 2 residence on Lampblack Road and 497 Mohawk Trail at around $500,000. The value of his adjacent property on Route 2 could not be accessed in a timely manner.

Because of the delinquent taxes, Varner said the city has a lien on 497 Mohawk Trail, which notably includes the iconic Longview Tower, and is in the process of foreclosing on it in land court.

It’s not the first time Guin has faced legal consequences for nonpayment of property taxes. Varner said the city foreclosed on the Longview Tower property in March 2014. Guin redeemed it in 2018.

Additionally, two other properties previously owned by Guin were seized and sold: 8 Mohawk Trail (R37-32, assessed at $71,200) was possessed by the city on April 3, 2017, and sold at auction in May of this year; a fourth property on the Mohawk Trail (R37-30A, assessed at $216,800) was also foreclosed on in 2017 and sold at the same auction, according to Varner.

This is not to say that Guin has not made payments. Between 2012 and 2018, he paid the city $27,004.44. Of that, $22,766.18 went toward taxes and $8,162.82 paid down interest, Varner said.

Notably, the state’s conflict of interest guideline, Mass. General Law 268a and 268b, doesn’t prohibit someone from running for local office if they owe back taxes. If Greenfield’s City Council ever took action related to back taxes while Guin was in office, however, he would have to recuse himself. The “longstanding interpretation” of the law applies “in any instance when the private financial interests (of an official) are directly and immediately affected or when it is reasonably foreseeable that the financial interests would be affected,” according to the State Ethics Commission’s website.

This includes “both elected and appointed officials in a city or county,” said Gerry Tuoti, a public information officer for the ethics office. Tuoti noted that the commission does not comment on specific situations; only about the scope of the law.

Likewise, Jason Tait, a spokesperson for the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, said he is not aware of any laws that would prohibit a political candidate who owed back taxes from being elected.

Originally serving as a Precinct 9 councilor, a seat he won as a write-in candidate in 2001, Guin shifted a few years later to an at-large seat, which he held for a number of terms. Guin went on to become the council’s original president. He stepped out of the role in 2011, based on Recorder archives.

Outside of public office, he is a local business owner who took over the former Longview Specialty Shops on Route 2 in Greenfield in 1994, according to an article published that year. The business, which opened in 1923 — and, under Guin’s guidance, sold everything from Beanie Babies to Christmas trees and at one point housed a miniature golf course and petting zoo — closed around the early-2010s. In its heyday, the tower attracted hundreds of customers each day and upwards of 2,000 visitors during busy fall weekends.

Other positions Guin has held include account manager at New England Frozen Food, the largest frozen food distributor in New England, and supervisor and manager at Florence Savings Bank, among others, based on past reporting.

Currently, Guin is the general manager of the Greenfield-based 98.3 FM WHAI, which is operated by Saga Communications Inc.

Based on city records, Guin purchased the three properties he currently owns and the others that were subsequently seized in a time period between 2004 and 2005.

When reached by phone Wednesday, Guin said he is up-to-date on his residential taxes and has never been delinquent on them. He said he decided not to fill out the Recorder’s questionnaire because “I am running unopposed” and has previously served as a public official for 12 years. He added that he believed voters would want to know more about candidates in contested races.

As for future repayment intentions, Guin said he currently has a payment plan in place with the city and he is “working through the matter, which will be cleared up by the time I take office in 2020,” he said.

City officials disagreed.

“He does not currently have a payment plan in place. He has told us he plans to sell the property, but he’s said that many times,” Varner said in a follow-up interview Wednesday.

This year’s general election will be held on Tuesday at the Greenfield High School gymnasium. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.




Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

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