Stonington business owners showed little interest in the proposed increases in health department inspections fees. Only, six people showed up to the public hearing on the fees and those people included three reporters, two representatives from the health department and one member of the Stonington Economic Development Commission.
The turnout was a stark contrast to last year’s meeting on a proposal to join the Ledge Light Health District. At that meeting business owners and other community members spoke out about their fears of changing from a small department to a big health district and worried about the increases in fees.
As a result of that meeting the Board of Selectmen voted not to join the Ledge Light Health District, but First Selectman Ed Haberek said fees for inspections from the Stonington Health Department would need to increase.
For the past several months, Haberek, members of the Stonington Borough Merchants Association, Mystic and Westerly Chambers of Commerce and the Town Sanitarian have looked at the current fee structure, the Ledge Light Health District fees, and other health department fees. The came up with a proposal to increase some fees, add some fees and restructure how businesses are organized within the department.
Salons, day care centers and public pools, for example, would pay $75 under the new structure. Currently they do not pay anything. A pdf of the proposed changes is available in the gallery of this article.
Selectmen George Crouse worried about the impact some of the fees would have.
“I think it’s unfair to the small mom and pop places,” Crouse said.
Crouse said he was speaking on behalf of one business owner worried about the fee increases, but there no business owners present at the meeting.
Haberek said about 200 letters with the proposed fees were sent out to business owners about the public hearing, and local media organizations also published notice of the meeting.
The proposed fees will now go to a Town Meeting before becoming final. The date of meeting has not yet been determined and the Board of Selectmen may make amendments at the meeting.