AUGUSTA — It could get more expensive soon if your dog goes on the lam.

Or your car goes crashing into another car, and you need a copy of the police report.

City councilors expressed support Thursday for a proposal from police Chief Robert Gregoire for a major increase in the fees charged to obtain police reports, and in the fees for having a dog caught running loose.

The cost of getting a copy of accident and other police reports would quadruple under the proposal.

The city charges $5 for the first five pages of accident and other police-generated reports, and 25 cents for each page beyond the first five.

The proposed new fees, if approved by councilors, would be raised to $20 for the first five pages, with the same 25-cent charge for each additional page.

Deputy Chief Jared Mills said the fees haven’t increased since 1981.

Councilors expressed support for the increased fees and could vote on them as soon as their next meeting, July 11.

Mayor William Stokes said his take on the fees was they are reasonable and, given the increased pressures on the city budget, it is time to raise them to the proposed levels.

“I understand these are large increases, but it has been decades since they’ve been looked at,” Stokes said.

Mills said there are about 2,000 crashes a year in the city. He said most copies of accident reports are requested by insurance companies.

The impound fee charged to the owner of a dog on the loose getting picked up by the animal control officer would increase from $15 to $35 for a first offense, from $25 to $50 for a second and $50 to $75 for a third.

Mills said as far as police could tell, the dog impound fees haven’t been increased since at least 1998.

Mills presented data from other Maine cities about what they charge for similar fees. Generally, he said, Augusta charges amounts similar to those of most other cities, though he noted those communities probably haven’t increased their fees in some time, either.

Councilor Mark O’Brien wondered whether the new proposed fees could be too much of an increase.

“If we implement the recommended changes, we’re going to be double and maybe four times other communities — that strikes me as quite a leap,” O’Brien said.

Mills said police settled on the proposed fees by looking at the amount of staff time involved in producing them.

“Look at, when a police report generated, all the work that goes into that,” Mills said, “and the staff hours it takes to reproduce it.”

Gregoire also recommends the city partner with Getcrashreports.com to allow people to get accident reports online. He suggests a fee of $15 for that service, a $5 reduction in the fee proposed for getting accident reports in person. He said the lower fee would be meant to encourage use of the online service.

Mills said if people get their accident reports online through Getcrashreports.com, they probably will get them faster, from the comfort of their own home, and it will save the city the staff time it would take to copy the report.

In a reversal of a previous proposal, the cost of fingerprinting, which Gregoire had proposed previously to increase from $10 to $20, would remain at $10 under Gregoire’s most recent recommendation.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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