2014-03-28 / Community

Residents approve utility TIF district

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

ARUNDEL — The town’s application for a utility tax increment finance district was unanimously approved by approximately 30 residents at a special town meeting Monday night.

According to the town’s calculations, the total projected tax shift throughout the life of the 30-year TIF would be $545,171. The tax shift for educational aid is projected to be $471,718; the revenue sharing shift, $35,476, and the county tax shift is expected to be $37,977.

“It was an overwhelming amount for our town, to say the least,” said Town Manager Todd Shea of the March 24 meeting.

The option of establishing Utility Safety Municipal Development and Tax Increment Financing District and Development in conjunction with Central Maine Power’s construction of a transmission line was first presented at a selectmen’s meeting in late February.

The TIF district will be in a Central Maine Power corridor encompasses nearly 104 acres between Arundel’s northern and southern boundaries.

Central Maine Power is building a 345kV power transmission line through its corridor — an investment of nearly $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,” according to the town’s official application.

Town Planner Tad Redway told selectmen at the Feb. 24 meeting the installment of the transmission line can help the town better fund safety issues that need to be addressed in the CMP corridor.

“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.”

The town’s 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.”

According to 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.”

In other words, the town is utilizing the installment of the transmission line to bridge the gap between what the safety capabilities are and what they need to be.

Town officials estimate that Arundel will glean about $30,000 a year from the Utility Safety TIF district, and that is “on the low end,” 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.

“We’re taking a very conservative approach,” Redway said.

This TIF would provide no downside 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.”

Tax shifts result from a TIF district “because the retained captured assessed value of the (TIF) district will be excluded from the state valuation of the property in the town,” reads the application.

“Once we have established the final assessment numbers from CMP and can verify what those revenue stream figures will be, then we will begin looking for bids for the apparatus that we had approved,” Shea said.

The process will likely begin about July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.

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