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Originally published in Castine Patriot, February 6, 2014
Town of Castine fees increased, the Breeze lease signed

by Anne Berleant

At their February 3 meeting, selectmen voted to add fees for notary public and marriage services, which previously were handled by the town clerk and town at no charge.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Selectman Gus Basile, stating that he’d rather see the services provided for free, given the fees would only net a few hundred dollars annually. He voted against adopting the new policy.

The rise was prompted by Town Clerk Susan Macomber and Town Financial Officer Karen Motycka learning that most towns do charge for notary public services.

“We thought it might be a consideration,” said Macomber, who estimated that the two town employees provide about 50 notary public services per year.

The town office has also seen an increase in requests for marriage licenses, Motycka said.

“‘I’d like to get a marriage license and I’d like you to marry us right now,’” she said is an increasingly common request. “We do it on town time.”

“You’re charging $50 for two people who can probably least afford it,” said Basile.

That is the new fee for marriage ceremonies. The charge for a notary public signature is $2, and $5 for other notary services, which includes a marriage license without the ceremony.

Fees for email and scanning services are also part of the new policy, since those requests are rising as fax requests decline. Like sending a fax, scanning and emails will cost $1 for the first page, and 25¢ for each additional page. To receive a fax or email will cost 20¢ per page.

The Breeze is set for this summer. Sno Logan signed a new lease to run through December 31, 2014, for $4,500. The previous rent was $1,500, with responsibility for maintaining the public restrooms. The new lease specifies that the town takes responsibility for the public restrooms.

“That’s outrageous,” said Doris Russell, stating that the dockside take-out restaurant brings tourists to Castine and the lease price matches the property tax on a large waterfront property. “That’s an awful high rent.”

It wasn’t the town’s intent to raise the price, said Town Manager Dale Abernethy, but to compensate for the town’s cost of cleaning the restrooms.

Until now, a lease condition was to maintain the public restrooms. However, the town took this over last summer after complaints from citizens.

“The town should never have had a restaurant clean the [public] bathrooms,” Russell said.

Apparently, this condition was added to the lease some years ago at the request of the then-lessee in exchange for lower rent and was never removed.

“That has been eliminated in this lease,” said Chairman David Unger.

The new lease also states that the town may solicit new bids for leasing The Breeze for 2015.

Upcoming Meetings

• Main Street design work session, Tuesday, February 18, 3 p.m., along Main Street, followed by regular selectmen’s meeting and Main Street design presentation at Emerson Hall

• Town/gown, Wednesday, February 19, 8 a.m., Emerson Hall