AUGUSTA — Rep. Ann Matlack, D-St. George, presented a bill before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday to update the fees paid to Maine sheriffs and their deputies when serving legal documents to residents on behalf of the state.
County sheriff’s offices are often requested by the State of Maine to serve legal documents to residents of their communities. For this service, counties are compensated for their work. However, the current remuneration is based on fees originally put in place in 1984. These fees have not kept up with the costs of serving civil process papers, divorce papers, civil arrests, custody documents and summonses.
“Unless these fees are increased, our county governments and property taxpayers will continue to bear the burden of doing this work for the State of Maine,” said Matlack, in a news release. “We are asking for these fees to be updated to more appropriately reflect the cost of performing these services.”
Currently, sheriffs and their deputies are paid $4 for some service documents and $8 for other services.
“The State of Maine has not changed the fee structure for the service of civil process since 1984,” said Sheriff Kevin Joyce, who testified in support of the bill on behalf of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Maine Sheriffs’ Association. “I know of no other such instance where costs have stagnated at 1984 levels in any public or private sector entity than for the service of civil paperwork. This has created a revenue issue that is causing funds that could be used for other law enforcement purposes, such as training and community relations, to instead be used to supplement the service of civil process.”
Matlack’s bill would also require the travel reimbursement rate for sheriffs and their deputies when carrying out these services to be at least the same rate as that paid to state employees.
The committee will hold a work session on the bill on Wednesday, April 21.
Matlack is serving her second term in the Maine House and represents the communities of Cushing, Thomaston, South Thomaston, St George, Matinicus, Criehaven and the Muscle Ridge Islands. She serves as House chair of the State and Local Government Committee and as a member of the Taxation Committee.