Friday, February 18, 2005
From birth to death: fees, fees and more fees
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is notorious for increasing fees in order to keep from raising taxes. Going one step further, the Town of Carlisle is annually increasing taxes and also raising fees. Town officials lined up to request higher fees at the Board of Selectmen meeting on February 8, and the Selectmen readily complied.
Birth, marriage, death
Town Clerk Charlene Hinton wants to get you coming and going and asked that fees for birth, marriage and death certificates be raised to $10. A marriage license would go up to $25 and the certification of documents (true copy attest with foil and town seal) would rise to $1.50 per page.
Hinton also plans to increase the cost of dog licenses to $10 for all dogs, starting next January 1. Neutered males and spayed females will no longer enjoy a reduced license fee of $6. The Selectmen quickly voted 4-0 to approve the fee increases.
Fire Chief David Flannery waited in line with increased ambulance fees. He explained that the Medicare Fee Schedule is entering its fourth year in 2005. "This year the rate blend will be 20% of the traditional rate and 80% of the fee schedule rate," said Flannery. "In 2006, 100% of the Medicare reimbursement will be based on the fee schedule." Carlisle accepts assignment of Medicare's allowable rate and a patient's co-pay is 20% of Medicare's allowable rate, not the invoiced rate. The current basic life support ambulance fee of $395 will be increased to $425. Defibrillation goes from $95.66 to $125 and "airways" increases by $15 to $125. Those needing a whiff of oxygen will be pleased to learn that the cost stays the same at $50. The Selectmen voted unanimously to accept the increased fees.
New fee for abutters list
Almost overlooked at the end of the line, Town Assessor John Speidel was not at the meeting to ask the Selectmen for an increased fee. Instead he wants to impose a new fee on the town's citizens. Speidel said that he spends too much time creating abutters' lists for homeowners and developers. "I would like to charge a $20.00 fee for each abutters' list, starting March 1," said Speidel. "Town boards would not have to pay the fee."
Is enough enough?
This was too much for Selectman Doug Stevenson who declared, "The Carlisle taxpayers pay for the services of the Board of Assessors and then get charged for their services!" Speidel countered with an estimate of $4,000 of fee money going into the town's coffers, and the Selectmen wasted no time in approving the new fee by a vote of 4-0.
Fee increases were recommended by the Finance Committee's Revenue Enhancement Subcommittee last year, believing that the town's fee structure lagged behind other communities.
© 2005 The