Proposed fee concerns border towns

5:30 PM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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HOULTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- A federal proposal to charge travelers a new fee when entering the U.S. at land ports of entry is not going over well in border communities.

A border fee study is included in the Department of Homeland Security's 2014 budget request and has not yet been approved. But the discussion has border towns in Maine and Canada saying the impact both personally and financially would just be too great. Many people who live on the U.S. - Canadian border have to cross the border to work or go to church or visit family.

Sarah Foster is the manager of Mardens in Houlton. She says the fee could have major impact on them because about 50 percent of their business is Canadian shoppers. Foster said, "A lot of our customers especially our Woodstock customers come over several times a week. They may come in 2 or 3 times a week. They also cross over to get things like butter, gas and groceries. So, they would certainly have to adjust their buying habits but there would be a considerable impact."

Jane Torres is the Executive Director of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce. She says the impact of a fee goes beyond the financial implications to the communities. Many people there have to cross the border to work or go to church. But the biggest concern she has would be family. Torres said, " I think it's family wise. You are not going to pop over and see your aunt if its going to cost you every time. You're just not going to come as much. And we are an aging community and there are a lot of older people who count on family to make sure they are ok. And I think it would impact them greatly."

The Department of Homeland Security issued this statement regarding the study.

"The proposed land border user fee study is intended to assess options for broadening the user fee base to help ensure that resources and services are properly aligned across all ports of entry. The study would include an analysis of the impact that collecting a fee would have on CBP operations, as well as on members of the trade and traveling public."

NEWS CENTER

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