Amesbury mulls increasing city fees | News

AMESBURY — Fire Department safety fees and some other city charges could be going up in the near future.

The city commissioned a comprehensive review of its municipal fees by the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management, based at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus.

As noted on its website, umb.edu, the Legislature formed the Collins center in July 2008 for the state’s municipalities, school districts and state agencies to use as a management guide.

The center’s November report found that Amesbury lagged behind its neighboring municipalities when it comes to charging fees and recommended the city bring itself more in line.

City Chief of Staff Ann Marie Casey said the last time the City Clerk’s Office updated its fees was in 2008, while the Fire Department had its last fee update in 2003.

“It has been quite some time since the fee structure has been looked at,” she said.

The City Council gave first readings to orders seeking to change various fees for the City Clerk’s Office, as well as the Fire Department, during its meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night.

Both orders were unanimously referred to the Ordinance Committee and Finance Committee and are expected to receive public hearings during the City Council meeting May 9.

City fees

A look at the potential new fee schedule shows the charge for genealogy research going up from $10 to $15 an hour because, according to the center’s report, it is time-consuming research.

A kennel license for four dogs would go up from $30 to $40 (since the city should be charging at least $10 per dog, according to the report); a list of residents would run $10, as opposed to the current $7 (higher printing costs); and the cost of a recording order for the location of poles goes up from $40 to $100 (since the city has to pay for abutters/postage.)

Casey also pointed to a proposed $20 notary oath fee for nonresidents which is a time-consuming effort for city employees that has never been charged before.

“This has been a free service here in Amesbury and the area communities have actually come over here to use our resources and services. Obviously, there is a cost to the city for that and we just wanted to get that in line with other communities,” she said.

Fire safety fees

Raising the single-family and multiuse residential smoke and carbon monoxide detector fees from $20 to $50 per certificate are among the proposed fee increases for fire safety inspection/permits.

The cost of an oil burner installation or alteration; flammable storage; tar kettle operation; blasting; and fireworks display permits would increase from $40 to $50.

A propane permit and an annual renewal of an underground storage tank license would go from $20 to $50 under the proposed fee system, and copies of fire reports would go from $5 to $10, among other changes.

The city does not want the fee increases to be burdensome or unreasonable for residents (or nonresidents) according to Casey, who said it is simply looking to “level the playing field.”

“This is an effort to standardize our fees with area communities and to be able to continue to provide our services,” she said.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.