June 19, 2018
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Rockland Council shies from charging Lobster Festival park rental

By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — Although no vote was called, the majority of the City Council seemed to agree Monday night that the Maine Lobster Festival should again pay for police, fire and public works but probably should not have to pay a $12,000 fee to rent three harborside parks for the Aug. 3-7 festival.

Last year the council told the festival that the city no longer would pay for fire, police and public works services and charged the festival $17,000.

When the council mentioned charging the festival $12,000 to rent the three parks that thousands of people will use, some councilors worried that putting a hand out for more money might be met with a slap.

Over the last 10 years, the festival has given about half a million dollars worth of gifts to the city, including an ambulance, Merrill Park, the repaving of another city park and more.

“If we charge a fee,” Mayor Brian Harden said, “they may not be able to afford to give.”

Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson countered that although some years the festival is generous, other years the donations are sparse. An annual fee would regulate the festival’s contributions to the city, she said.

“A fee is a fee and we all have to pay our taxes and we all have to pay our fees. If that means your corporation doesn’t have money to donate in that area, it’s a clean deal, you paid your fee.”

The three other councilors seemed to support waiving the rental fee. The difference was that the city incurs real costs by absorbing police, fire and public works fees, they said, but it does not cost the city to waive rental fees to the parks.

No formal votes were taken regarding the festival. The matter will be decided when Rockland completes its budget later this year.

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