Rumford board agrees to absorb new state fee for background checks for cabbies for now

RUMFORD — Cabbies and owners of two local cab companies denounced a proposal Thursday night to charge cabbies an extra $22 to cover a new state fee for background checks when they apply annually for licenses.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Jessica Corriveau of Rumford, a cab driver applicant for Rumford taxi company Roadhog Express, told selectmen Thursday night that a proposal to charge cabbies an additional $22 for background checks atop the $25 license fee is wrong.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford Selectman Brad Adley shares his opinion of a proposal Thursday night to charge Rumford cabbies an additional $22 to cover a new state charge for background checks. Selectman Jolene Lovejoy listens.

They argued that they're providing Rumford a service by taking intoxicated fares home and putting themselves in danger in the process, and providing transportation for the elderly and disabled.

After considerable discussion, selectmen agreed that the town would cover the $22 fee per applicant this year using contingency funds. The cost was estimated at about $800 if 35 cabbies apply as they have in the past.

Selectmen will meet with cabbies and owners of the three area cab companies in April and create an amendment to the 2010 taxi law, which currently only levies a $25 annual fee for cabbie licenses.

In February 2010, selectmen added several changes to Rumford's taxi law and voters approved them.

Among them, cabbies are required to apply at the police station for a yearly license enabling them to drive taxis. Additionally, they must pay $25 each, which covers the cost of a criminal history background check.

At that time, Maine wasn't charging for such checks, but is now.

Police Chief Stacy Carter briefed selectmen on the $22 fee.

To recoup it, Carter suggested that selectman increase the $25 fee to $47 by having cabbies pick up the cost of the background checks. The town, he said, shouldn't have to pay the $22 because cabbies work for private businesses.

Cabbies and cab company owners argued that isn't fair to them when they're trying to supplement their incomes and grow their businesses.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said Rumford didn't change the rule; the state did.

“So the state is forcing the town to pay this fee, and either we absorb that cost somewhere, or we pass it on to the user, which in this case is the licensee,” Puiia said.

“It's nothing we wanted to do,” he said.

Jessica Corriveau of Rumford argued against the $22 fee and the wait for approval.

Five weeks ago, she said she applied for a cabbie license to drive for Roadhog Express. It has yet to be approved.

“I don't have a problem with paying the $25 fee, but as of yesterday, it was five weeks and I don't have any major driving offenses,” Corriveau said.

“In '97, I got a speeding ticket and it was not criminal speed, but I'm still waiting, and like the gentleman before me said, we are a small town and not like Lewiston-Auburn.

“They have other options and modes of transportation for the public,” she said. “In this small town, we as cab drivers are the only ones for transportation for a lot of the elderly and disabled, etc., and to add that extra fee above the $25, why should we have to pay for that?

“Like the gentleman before me said, we don't make a lot off (driving cabs), and a lot of times, we don't get tips. We're just trying to supplement incomes or make a living, so why should it be added on to us who are helping others?” she asked

“Thank you. Well said,” Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina said.

Courtesy Cab owner John Merchant of Mexico argued that charging the extra fee is unfair.

“We're the ones that get assaulted, we're the ones that get robbed,” Merchant said.

Resident Kevin Saisi told selectmen to “do some common sense” and raise the  $25 fee to $30.

Chief Carter said he appreciates all that taxicab services do.

“They certainly take the OUIs off the street,” he said.

After more discussion, Buccina motioned to absorb the cost for now and work to change the taxi ordinance in April for town meeting approval in June.

It was approved 4-1 with Selectman Brad Adley dissenting.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Heather M. Conley's picture

if these cab companys want to

if these cab companys want to hire these drivers they should be paying the fee. Why should the town have to pay it and why should the driver have to pay the cab owner should have to pay. If you get hired at a job and you need further training most jobs pay for that. If you need special background checks or licences they for the most part pay for them. Why should a town that is not doing so hot because of most of the morons in office and their decision have to pay out of pocket when they can barely afford to take care of their town pay for these background checks.

Kevin Saisi's picture

The town is NOT paying anything

It is all smoke & mirrors. The Cabbies pay all of the costs, the town is just trying to maintain their $17 profit. It seems that, just like the federal level, government thinks they have to take as much money from the little guy to prevent the corporations a few cents on their taxes. Next there will be a fee to pay your taxes, ask a question, or have the town plow your street.

If our town had started to work on building the tax base back when the economy was good, we wouldn't be worried about making money off the poor today.

Kevin Saisi's picture

The Frank DiConzo endorsed slush fund

Let's presume that Chief Carter performs the background checks. His salary is part of the budget, paid for by taxes. If the fee for Hack licenses includes reimbursement for administrative costs including labor, where does that money go??? It doesn't go to Chief Carter, because his salary is already included in the annual budget. Where does it go??? Slush fund!!!!

By supporting a $47 fee for hack licenses, you are supporting a police department slush fund created by an extra $17 per license PROFIT for the department.

Slush Fund

Think again Kevin. If there is a slush fund it was created while you were in office. Unless you are referring to the general fund as such which has always been there. If it goes into police fund and not general fund that was done so by previous boards before me and town mamgers from the past for allowing it.

Dan McKay's picture

Has Chief Stacy Carter ever

Has Chief Stacy Carter ever thought that maybe indulging his department in State programs can come back to bite the Rumford taxpayers ?

One step further Dan

Why do we have such a police workforce with such a small population. To many cars; no working chief; unsafe window hrs;locked access after 4pm. I don't need to go on. There needs to be changes.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Putting it all together....

When the hack licenses were first established, the town charged a $25 fee. The cost to the town included the piece of paper for the application, and the ID badge, which costs no more than $8.00 Essentially, the town was earning about $17.00 for performing the service.

The State of Maine now requires the town to use a paid service to run the background checks, and charges $22.00. Chief Carter was requesting that the town increase the fee charged to the cab drivers by $22.00 to cover that cost, ignoring the $17 profit they already were earning. My suggestion was that the town charge $30.00 ($22.00 for the state fee, and $8.00 for the ID badge). The police officer who takes a few minutes to process this, is already on the clock, and handles it in the course of their daily duties.

How is it fair for the town to profit off of private businesses????

YEAH Brad !

This town absorbs way to much. Let the four who voted for the town to absorb it pay it out of their yearly stipend as a Selectperson. This is careless spending. Like the steroid bull idea presented by Mr. Rinaldo that I mistakingly voted for. That was a gamble for bringing people onto the island. Time to move it over by Paul. This board needs to put monies into taking care of other items in town that costs money. Like the destruction of our side walks by trees that the town foreman refuses to take down. Get off your butts board and put some attention where it belongs. Department heads work for the town. We don't work for them.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Nothing to absorb

They receive $25 per application. It costs them $22 for the background check, and a few dollars for the ID badge. I speculated that it cost about $8 to be generous, but I believe the actual cost is less. If they want to increase the fee, I need to see a breakdown of the cost. THE TOWN SHOULD NOT BE MAKING A PROFIT OFF OF THE CITIZENS. $531 per year is one heck of a profit, off of the backs of one of the lowest paid professions in our community.

Stop Guessing Kevin

Bottom line the town should not be absorbing added costs placed on us by the state. Yes cab service is nice but the town doesn't have to grant licenses. The cab companies opened a business. We should not be subdisizing them. The owners regulate the drivers pay the town doesn't. Stop trying to make the town responsible for the wages paid by taxi company owners. One company keeps bouncing ownership because the original owner kept getting in trouble with the law. The drivers had to have clean records and what's wrong with the owners having to keep themselves clean. Other business owners need to pay certain fees to the town. What if they pettitioned the town to pay their fees.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Frank

Your lack of attention to detail and knee jerk response to issues is one of the leading reasons you are no longer on that board.

Sorry Kevin

but the reason I didn't get in is because you and others in Rumford don't like hearing the truth and I didn't buckle under to intimidation on issues like others. Or jump sides on issues like you.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Hmmmm...

I heard rhetoric like this earlier today when I was listening to the NH debate... Are your running for the Republican nomination Frank???

It is funny that you try to blame anything that occurred while I was on the board upon me. I was always in the minority. I don't jump sides, I am not on any one side. On some issues I support a more conservative approach, and on others, I support a more liberal approach. It is called thinking for yourself, and not being a mindless political zombie. I tend to base my opinions on the facts that are stated. If additional information is uncovered, I may change my position, but it is based entirely upon facts. I am sorry to say that you don't seem to be as open minded in your decision making.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Frank, you are not paying attention....

Applicants pay $25, the state fee is $22.... That leaves $3 for the id badge and application form. If those costs are more, then add a couple of dollars to the fee, but there is no reason that the applicant should be paying $47.

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