2014-02-28 / Community

Town moves ahead with plans for new TIF district

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — The board of selectmen voted Monday night to move forward with steps to establish a Utility Safety Tax Increment Financing District in conjunction with Central Maine Power’s construction of a power transmission line. The TIF district would be within the Central Maine Power corridor, which extends from the northern to the southern boundary of Arundel — approximately 103.5 acres.

Central Maine Power is building a 345Kv power transmission line through its corridor — an investment of $3.2 million. The construction is part of the company’s statewide infrastructure improvement that will “spur economic confidence and activity in both the District and in adjacent commercial zones,” reads the town’s official application.

The application also highlights “serious challenges” such as “the remoteness of the utility corridor from highway access points, vegetation management practices, and combustible characteristics of the environs.”

To make matters worse, reads the application, “the town also lacks the resources to access and extricate injured recreational users from remote sections of the corridor within acceptable response times ... increased recreational usage translates into increased incidence of accidents and medical incidents requiring response from Arundel EMS services.”

Town Planner Tad Redway told selectmen at the Feb. 24 meeting the Arundel Fire Rescue Department is underequipped to meet the safety needs and property preservation requirements of the new power line.

“This district that we’re designating, CMP is putting a lot of money into that. It’s extremely rugged terrain and we can’t provide public services out there,” Redway said. “And we have other projects that are next to this district including Kate’s Butter. That whole area is part of the agricultural industrial area. Whether you like it or not these corridors are recreational – hiking, hunting, bike riding. And if someone has an accident, we can’t get them out. That’s why we’re going after these things.”

Therefore, if the TIF district is approved, the town would dedicate the tax revenues from Central Maine Power’s infrastructure improvements to the Arundel Fire Rescue Department. Specifically to “solving some capital improvement problems that the fire department is or will be facing with this TIF district,” Redway said.

Improvements listed in the application include “the purchase of specialized gear, firefighter and EMS training, and facilities upgrade.”

Items and training programs to be subsidized include a 4x4 Wildland Fire Pumper, a UTM Response Vehicle and a trailer, an attack pumper apparatus, firebay improvements in the town’s fire station and Wildland Fire Personal Protective training and equipment.

Conjecture shows that Arundel will glean $30,000 a year from the Utility Safety TIF district, and that is “on the low end,” Redway said. “We’re taking a very conservative approach.”

This TIF would provide no downside exposure to the residents, Redway said.

“The issue is, what do we get out of this TIF district that we wouldn’t get out of an assessment,” Redway told the board. “Well, it’s the tax shift.”

According to the application, tax shifts and tax savings from a TIF district, occur “because the retained captured assessed value of the (TIF) District will be excluded from the State Valuation of the property in the town.”

According to the town’s calculations, the total projected tax shift, throughout the life of the 30-year TIF would be $532,727. The tax savings for educational aid is projected to be $460,899; the revenue sharing shift, $34,663, and the county tax shift is expected to be $37,166.

Due to the conservative tax revenue stream from the district, the town is also proposing a three-phase development bond-payment program, totaling 30 years. The first phase, a six-year bond, would be $151,000 to meet safety needs of the district. The town would issue a 20-year $425,000 bond for equipment costs. The third phase, a four-year bond, would be be $115,000 for station improvements and bay expansions.

According to the application, the revenues for financing the development program for the TIF will come from the town’s supplemental funds and tax revenues from captured assessed value from infrastructure improvements within the district since 2012.

Selectmen voted unanimously to push the pursuit of the Utility Safety TIF District to a special selectmen’s meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 3. The board meeting will be followed by a public hearing and a special town meeting where residents can vote on the issue.

“A TIF is only as good as the program that is designed for it,” Redway said.

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