The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands has waived late fees for Representative John Martin despite repeated threats to cancel his camp lease, according to documents released today by Maine PEER.
Representative Martin leases a lot from the Bureau of Public Lands in T16R6 which has an annual lease payment of $715.52. The Bureau requires lease payments to be paid yearly by May 1st. Lease payments which are not received by June 1st are considered overdue and late notices are mailed. If a lease is over due, the Bureau will charge a late fee of $25.00 plus a surcharge of 1% per month of the unpaid balance.
In Martin’s case, the state’s repeated notices went unheeded:
* On February 1, 1999, John Titus of the Bureau’s Division of Planning, Acquisition and Special Services sent a notification to Representative Martin that his lease of $715.52 payment was due May 1, 1999.
* On June 1, 1999, Mr. Titus sent Representative Martin the first late notice and indicated that with late fees Martin now owed the Bureau $747.68 “Failure to remit payment in accordance with the terms of the lease constitutes default of the lease.” “We must receive your remittance on or before July 1st, 1999.”
* On July 6, 1999, Mr. Titus sends a 2nd notice of rental due. In that letter Martin is cautioned that if he does not remit the lease fee, he could lose his lease, “If we do not receive your remittance by August 2, 1999 we will assume you are no longer interested in your camp lot and the necessary steps will be made to cancel the lease.” Martin now owes the Bureau $754.84.
* In an internal weekly report for week ending October 30, 1999 provided to MainePEER, Ralph Knoll Director of the Bureau’s Planning Division, informs Bureau Director Tom Morrison that “John Martin still hasn’t paid. It’s probably time that you give him a call.” Knoll makes this suggestion after the Bureau had threatened to cancel Martin’s lease.
* On November 23rd Ralph Knoll sends another notice to Martin, “Your 1999 fee should be remitted to the Bureau upon receipt of this letter.”
The Bureau of Parks and Lands received a payment from Martin of $715.52 on December 16, 1999. Despite being more than six months late, Martin paid no late fee.
In a letter to Maine PEER Director Tim Caverly from Bureau of Parks and Lands Director Tom Morrison dated January 11, 2000 explains, “Although the standard late notices were sent out to John Martin, ultimately those (late) fees were waved in recognition of the unique situation created by the loss of overland access to the lease site during that period.”
This was not the only year that the Bureau of Parks and Lands had difficulty collecting from Martin. In a letter dated July 10th, 1998 John Titus writes, “The annual rental payment for your camp lot lease with the Bureau of Parks and Lands was due and payable May 1, 1998. To date we have not received your payment, therefore, this letter serves as your third notice of the rental due in the amount of $754.82 which includes a $25.00 late fee. Mr. Titus emphasized, “If we do not receive your rental payment by July 24, 1998, the necessary steps will be taken to cancel your lease. I urge you to make this payment promptly.”
Nine weeks later Representative Martin remitted his payment of $754.82 on September 10, 1998.
“State legislators should be treated the same way that ordinary citizens are treated and not be given special waivers,” commented Maine PEER Director Tim Caverly. “Martin is doubly shortchanging the taxpayers by not paying the fees owed and by causing state workers to spend time and resources to make him pay his bills.”