Long lines at city and town halls, like this one in Lewiston on Tuesday afternoon, are predicted to get longer with the impending state shutdown.

LEWISTON — The city clerk’s office is encouraging drivers to tend to July paperwork before Saturday to avoid lapsed registrations and licenses if state government shuts down. That goes for online renewals, too.

The city will also stop issuing certified copies of birth and death certificates before the end of the week, because the state needs to approve certificates before clerks can issue them.

And, according to the city’s community relations coordinator, Dottie Perham-Whittier, when residents come to City Hall to complete their paperwork this week, they should expect longer than usual lines.

On Tuesday, Gov. Paul LePage reiterated his position that he won’t approve any budget that includes the 3 percent surtax on Mainers who earn over $200,000 a year, because he believes it will chase high-earners out of state and punish small-business owners.

The tax was approved by voters in a November referendum, and is supported by Democratic lawmakers.

Legislative leaders have said they intend to pass a budget by the end of the week, but LePage has threatened to wait the full 10 days allowed by law before signing or vetoing the document, forcing a shutdown. And, if vetoed, the Legislature would have to return to either overturn the veto or reopen budget negotiations during the shutdown.


On Tuesday, LePage told WVOM-FM  that even if state government shuts down, he’ll make sure state parks remain open. He acknowledged that a shutdown at the start of the tourism season would be costly, but said he would ensure state parks stay open during a shutdown.

Representatives from towns across the state said the impact of a shutdown would depend mostly on whether the state computer server shuts down, and if the Maine Online Sportsman’s Electronic System is up and running. That system allows people to get fishing, hunting and boating licenses.

“There is only a problem if you have something weird you need to talk to someone about or the system goes down,” Harrison Town Clerk Melissa St. John said about these state-related services. “Then it is a big problem. It is summer and people want to use their boats and fish.”

Officials in towns such as Rumford, Jay, Dixfield and Mexico don’t believe a government shutdown would impact them too much. The biggest hurdles would be vehicle registrations, marriage licenses and birth or death certificates.

Most towns would be able to issue re-registration stickers, but would have a harder time registering new cars or processing private sales.

Sabattus Town Manager Anthony Ward said if the state shuts down, the impact on towns depends on the length and degree of the shutdown. Another factor is the financial stability of each town and city.


Newry Town Administrator Amy Bernard said a shutdown “would be an inconvenience to the citizens more than us,” referring to the office staff. The Town Office would remain open.

An administrative clerk at 11th District Court in Paris said if government shuts down, prisoners in custody and upcoming protection from abuse filings will be affected.

“We can’t hold anyone in custody for more than 48 hours, so that’s something the courts have to consider,” she said. “Some of the other cases, such as protection from abuse orders, or petitions filed by the Department of Human Services, have to be heard in a timely manner. Those would all be affected.”

Shannon Moxcey, General Assistance administrator for several towns in the state, said a state shutdown “will have an impact but not a big one” for the General Assistance program.

“I would no longer be able to call the General Assistance hotline, which is facilitated by the (Department of Health and Human Services),” she said Tuesday.

Moxcey noted most towns have a General Assistance portal set up that allows administrators to verify basic information for potential clients. “It could create some delays but I have other resources from which to get my information other than that,” she said about the hotline.


“The GA program should run as usual,” Moxcey said. “People (who) come in to apply will still have a response within 24 hours and in nonemergency cases will be required to do WorkFare prior to receiving vouchers for assistance.

“I have enough support and information resources so we can continue care for our people,” Moxcey said. “Everything is going to be OK.”

Central Maine Healthcare spokeswoman Ericka Dodge said, “It’s important for folks to know that regardless of the state shutdown, we will be open. As for specifics, it’s hard to know exactly what will be impacted since the governor hasn’t outlined who and what is deemed essential. But it’s probably safe to say our payments from Medicaid will not be forthcoming; the processing of insurance applications will be slowed down — and then there are the things like credentialing of our providers and nurses that would be on hold, as well as any sort of permitting that we would need for construction, etc. But one way or the other, we will figure it out with the state.”

Dodge added that MaineCare patients will still be able to be seen by a doctor.

“There will be no interruptions to our delivery of patient care,” she said. 

Maine Association of Nonprofits Spokeswoman Jennifer Burns Gray said, “Folks are anxious. A lot of these members work with populations at risk, and if they’re dependent on a regular flow of money from the state to support that work, they should have concerns.”


She said the big issue is what will be determined to be “essential service.”

SeniorsPlus Executive Director Betsy Sawyer-Manter said, “There will definitely be an impact. The biggest impact on us is that we don’t get paid.”

“We’re contingency planning,” she said. “Given what we have for operating funds at the present time, how long could we go without payment before we find ourselves in relatively dire straits? We think we could go probably about 25 days.

“We’re hopeful the state will arrive at some sort of compromise and get a contract by the end of the week,” she said.

SeniorsPlus has as-yet unsigned contracts with the state that are supposed to start July 1. With a shutdown, it’s unclear what will happen with those. She’s asked but has not heard back.

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