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Penalties paid by Bellavia for late taxes, fees in Batavia; GOP candidate for House has had pattern of missing city deadlines over last 5 years

David Bellavia racked up hundreds of dollars in late penalties after missing several property tax deadlines, according to City of Batavia records.

Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran now running for Congress, was four months late in filing his 2011 city-county taxes. He was also late in paying school taxes and fees for city water and sewer service.

For example, the documents show that the Batavia resident was assessed $364.60 in penalties for late school taxes in February 2011. As recently as February of this year, while pursuing a congressional candidacy, he incurred $376.92 in late fees and interest.

The same records -- requested by The Buffalo News -- indicate that Bellavia was late in four of the last five years in paying his water and sewer fees, and was assessed more than $100 in penalties.

Bellavia is challenging former Erie County Executive Chris Collins in the Republican congressional primary for the right to oppose Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, in November.

Thursday, the candidate emphasized that in every instance of late taxes and fees, he eventually paid and that all accounts are now up to date. He said his financial situation is like that of many other "average Western New Yorkers," in that he and his family must sometimes struggle to make ends meet.

"I'm not a millionaire; I'm not a country club Republican," he said. "Yes, my family on occasion has been late paying bills, but they are paid in full, including fees and interest."

Bellavia said he receives an income from a best-selling book he authored on his experiences as an infantryman in the Iraq War -- "House to House: An Epic Memoir of War." Bellavia also co-wrote and sold the screenplay for a forthcoming film, "Tie That Binds."

He said that he is working on a second book and that the income continues from the sale of his first one.

Bellavia said he seeks to stay focused on issues in the campaign, adding that his candidacy is about embracing policies that recognize "we all struggle in President Obama's America."

"It's high time to put the brakes on this negative campaign," he said, renewing his challenge to Collins -- so far ignored -- to engage in a series of debates.

Earlier this week, The News reported that four times in the last year, the Federal Election Commission has questioned Bellavia's campaign finances, including unexplained expenditures, but that his campaign has failed to reply to FEC letters.

Despite the federal and local revelations about his finances, Bellavia said, voters should not be concerned about his sense of responsibility.

"I was an infantry soldier for six years and had the responsibility of the lives of my men and tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment," he said. "No one has ever had any problem with my responsibility."