For failing to pay sbout $6,000 in real estate taxes, Ralph Ardito could lose his Belgrade Canoe and Kayak business, which he’s run for about two decades.

Belgrade officials voted Tuesday to advertise the 1.3-acre property on Route 27 for sale this month after foreclosing on it for delinquent taxes.

Ardito, who lives elsewhere in the town, argued against the sale at Tuesday’s Board of Selectpersons meeting, telling the board at one point, “This won’t look good on Facebook.”

At 1005 Augusta Road, also known as Route 27, Belgrade Canoe & Kayak is in a high-profile location, across from the post office in Belgrade and not far from the new Town Office.

Ardito, who has owned and operated the business for at least 20 years, said he’s trying to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection.

“It’s been a comedy of errors, the reason why the tax hasn’t been paid,” he said them. “I have assets coming out of my ears.”

“We’re going through a reorganization,” Ardito added. “We’re trying to get back into business with a full stock, a couple hundred thousand dollars’ worth of stock, like we used to have. It’s been complicated.”

He said he plans to pay the back taxes, which were $5,926 as of March 16, according to town records, as soon as he sells an unencumbered lot in Wildewood Estates, also known as Belgrade Lakes Colony, in Rome.

Ardito also said the business is subject to liens by some manufacturers.

In 2016, Johnson Outdoors Inc., of Racine, Wisconsin, obtained an order in Waterville District Court calling for the sale of Ardito’s property to satisfy a judgment of almost $20,900, and says the property “is worth no less than $200,000.”

It was to be sold 90 to 120 days after the order, which was recorded at the Kennebec County Registry of Deeds, and there was an indication that it could be redeemed within 90 days by payment of the debt and other costs to Johnson Outdoors.

On Tuesday, Ardito said the taxes would be the first items paid when he liquidated some property and offered to sign a notarized statement indicating that.

Selectman Melanie Jewell asked him why he had not made arrangements sooner to sell the property and get the taxes paid.

The unpaid taxes go back to 2015.

“I had to spend a lot of money on a little health thing I had,” Ardito told the board.

Belgrade’s treasurer, Melanie Alexander, told the board that the property taxes on Ardito’s home are current.

Chairman Rick Damren said the board had to follow the town’s policy regarding foreclosed property and advertise it for sale.

Town Manager Dennis Keschl said Ardito still could redeem the property if he came in and paid the taxes in full, plus the cost of advertising. Keschl said the town would send a registered letter — the latest in a series — to Ardito indicating that.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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