Main-Land Development Consultants‘ President Darryl Brown spoke out this week in Farmington at a red-tape forum about the growing challenges of doing business in the state. At the forum, Brown talked about the slow speed of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s application review process, and how development investment is sometimes lost at a result. A typical project application used to be two inches thick 30 years ago he explained, but held up a 10 inch thick stack to show the volume of information current application submissions require. Feedback received at the forums by members of the transition team of governor-elect Paul LePage will be used to develop government reform proposals for the new administration to consider when it takes office next month.
Here is the Lewiston Sun Journal’s story on the forum, featuring Darryl Brown, and written by Ann Bryant:
Red Tape Forum elicits concerns about doing business in Maine
By Ann Bryant
FARMINGTON — Business owners in Franklin County had plenty of tales to tell Tuesday as the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Red Tape Workshop.
The workshop is a forum being used to develop reform suggestions as part of incoming Gov. Paul LePage’s Red Tape Removal Audit.
“The governor wants to hear,” Dan Demeritt, a LePage transition team member and spokesman, told area business managers and owners here in one of several similar meetings being held around the state.
He wants to hear about “things that impede business growth” in Maine, he said.
For the next two hours, Demeritt and several local legislators heard from several of the nearly 50 who attended the early morning session at The Granary.
From abundant regulations that vary from employee to employee to duplication of state inspectors and the need for an “attitude adjustment” for Maine employees, local businesses quoted numerous examples of why the state is often described as not being business friendly.
There are some good people working for the state, but it can be adversarial at times, Granary owner Richard Griswold said, while suggesting state inspections be done by one person with a list to check rather than a barrage of inspectors.
Clarity on rules among departments and employees was one of the biggest issues voiced by Karen Thorndike, who, with her husband, Robert, runs Thorndike excavating in Phillips. An owner should be able to call a department and remain with an employee until an answer is given, she said.
“You can get three different answers depending on who answers the phone, and helpfulness is lacking,” she said.
She went on to describe auditors who didn’t know the equipment used by the business they were auditing, and time-consuming procedures to meet requirements by differing departments.
No one disputes that Maine needs regulations, but they should be ones available to everybody, Bill Berry of Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley said.
“Not in lawyer-ease but in plain language,” he said, describing how he’s witnessed Fire Marshal Office inspectors rudely interpreting the rules in different ways. “Every state employee should go through customer service training,” he added.
Agreeing that an attitude adjustment from top to bottom is needed, Darryl Brown from Main-Land Development Consultants in Livermore Falls also voiced concerns for timeliness on Department of Environmental Protection applications that can wait six months for a decision. He offered an example of a business and potential jobs lost during the wait.
A project, 30 years ago, compiled about two inches in paperwork, he said, holding a small stack. For comparison he lifted about 10 inches of paperwork representing what’s needed now.
To read the rest of the story on the Lewiston Sun Journal’s website, click here.