MECHANIC FALLS — The town council Monday tabled a proposal that would have amended the traffic ordinance to ban setting up voluntary toll booths.

Craig Carey, representing the Mechanic Falls, Minot, Poland Lions Club, argued against such a move, pointing out that banning voluntary toll booths would deprive organizations such as his of a handy way to raise money.

Carey said that fears that councilors had expressed concerning town’s liability were unfounded.

“Norway, Mexico, Oxford all allow these activities. I’ve talked with police officials in all three towns and they say they’ve never had an issue,” Carey said.

Additionally, Carey pointed out, Lions Clubs are covered by a $1 million liability insurance policy against problems that might arise while they are undertaking fundraising activities.

“I don’t understand why you won’t allow voluntary toll booths. I don’t understand what you are anticipating,” Carey said.

Town Manager John Hawley noted that some years ago the town’s fire department used traffic stops to raise money and found it profitable, but had stopped doing so when they had learned it was illegal.

Hawley noted that in May the town had learned that the law had been changed so that towns with their own police departments may now choose to allow nonprofit organizations to operate voluntary toll booths.

The liability issue arose, Hawley pointed out, in conversation with Jeff Goss, town’s police chief, who also questioned what the department’s role in traffic control near the toll booths might be.

Hawley said he had checked with Maine Municipal Association lawyers regarding the liability question but had yet to get a definitive answer from them.

Councilors asked Hawley to get to the bottom of the liability issue and directed Goss to talk with area police chiefs to find out what their experience has been.

In other business, the council agreed to enter into a two-year contract with Almighty Waste for transportation services for hauling the town’s waste and recyclables. Other companies submitting bids for the work included Pine Tree Waste and Corcoran Environmental.

The council also, following a public hearing, adopted a policy that exempts active military personnel from having to pay vehicle excise taxes, and adopted a policy governing the use by town officials of credit and debit cards.

The council issued a catering license to Image Inc. for a barbecue showdown, scheduled for this Saturday at Harvest Hill Farm, and a catering license to the American Legion for the town’s June 23 Community Day.

The council appointed Laurel Nadeau to serve as town clerk, effective June 13, and voted to have Dan Blanchard to serve as council chairman, and Nancy Richard as council vice chairman, effective July 1.


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