GARDINER — Officials plan to overhaul municipal licensing fees to make up for lost state revenue and take the strain off city services.

City Manager Scott Morelli said in the near future the city will increase some fees, implement new ones and eliminate others.

“The city will be looking to eliminate several licensing fees that we believe are unnecessary and, frankly, unfriendly to businesses,” Morelli said Thursday.

Among fees city officials want to kill is one for public use of pinball machines. The state currently allows municipalities to charge a fee to companies that operate pinball machines and jukeboxes. Morelli said there is strong sentiment among Gardiner officials that these types of fees are unnecessary. The current licensing fee for a pinball machine is $25.

Officials in Gardiner “have an interest in eliminating those fees for things that do not add any burden to city staff,” he said. “One such example is a pinball machine.

“I’m not so sure there is a real need for the city to be involved in issuing a permit so someone can have a pinball machine,” Morelli said.

Regarding fees that could increase, Morelli specified: “Some fees the state allows municipalities to charge include a special permit for catering privileges off-premises that involve liquor. Currently, the city doesn’t charge a fee. The recommended fee is $10 per event. Special amusement permits is another one. The recommendation for that is $25 per event.”

Municipal fees are funding mechanisms that provide additional revenue to communities without raising property or personal income taxes. Examples of long-standing municipal fees include building and licensing fees and administrative fees for sewer, water and trash collection.

Among other new “fair licensing fees” that could be imposed as a way to reduce additional strains on city services, Morelli said, are new licenses for establishments that serve alcohol and non-Gardiner companies that want to sell their wares at one of the city’s many community events.

He said a group made up of city staff and two councilors are working on the fee proposal, which eventually will be brought to the council for a vote.

“So the proposal that city staff and the council are working on would enhance fees for those types of things and eliminate fees for others that we deem are not warranted,” he said. “We are looking to refine this proposal in the coming months and have the council adopt it in time for this summer.”

The new proposals aren’t a first for Gardiner. Last year, City Council approved stiffer parking fines.

Police Chief James Toman said Gardiner’s old parking tickets cost $10, with a $5 late fee assessed after two days. Under the new system, tickets are $10 and double in price after 15 days.

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408

[email protected]

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