ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health reviewed all its fees and has made some increases that will come into play the first of the year.
The board voted last week to hike fees to make them more in line with surrounding communities and to make sure they cover the cost within the department.
"Technically the town could be losing money," Chairman Bruce Shepley said. "We want to at least break even. We are not here to make any money but we are not here to subsidize services."
Although some of the changes were minimal or will not affect many businesses or residents, the board did make some substantial changes as to how it permits food vendors.
Currently, it costs $25 for a mobile food vendor inspection. The board decided to keep this fee the same for temporary vendors, or vendors who only plan on being in town for a day. Each subsequent day will cost another $25.
The board agreed to distinguish between temporary mobile vendors and mobile vendors that may work in town on a seasonal basis. They agreed to charge $50 for an annual mobile food vendor permit.
"There are so few coming in I would not like this to be deterring," Shepley said. "I want to see this grow."
Some board members were concerned that because some vendors may opt for the annual permit that the board may not be able to perform regular inspections.
Shepley told his colleagues that the board can always perform random inspections but noted it was not their job to "babysit" food vendors. He said, like a restaurant, once inspected it should be up to the vendors to meet all the standards. If they don’t, the error falls on the vendor and they will face the consequences.
Another larger increase was the tobacco permit that was doubled from $50 to $100.
The board decided that because it is trying to discourage tobacco use in the community, such as passing the Tobacco 21 initiative and banning smoking on town-owned property, it would be best to raise the fee.
"I hate to say it, because I don't want to be misunderstood, but $50 almost encourages people to apply for it," Shepley said. "We just passed Tobacco 21 because we are trying to distance ourselves and not encourage it."
Members also agreed to raise pre-rental inspections from $25 to $35 to better cover the cost of the inspection. They added that there will be another $25 fee tagged on to any additional visit the inspector must make after the first revisit.
The board agreed to bump up the food establishment fee from $50 to $100 because the town is significantly lower than other communities. Also, these inspections often require followup.
They decided to raise the catering fee to the same amount.
Other increases were trash haulers, which were bumped up to $100. The Board of Health decided to keep this increase to a minimum because it did not want the cost to be passed on to the consumer.
There are 12 active haulers in Adams
The board said all those affected by the changes will receive a mailing to alert them of the changes.
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