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Boosting effort to grow Rumford
RUMFORD -- With potential economic development knocking on the door, the Board of Selectmen continued with a process to establish two or three tax-incremented financing (TIF) districts, an incentive they open will open that door.
Last Thursday, the new board learned more about what is involved during a workshop with Pierce Atwood of Portland, who has been awarded the bid to prepare filings.
A TIF is a locally-controlled economic development financing program that is funded by property taxes on the development project. The TIF protects developers within the TIF distict approved at the discretion of the board of selectpersons from property taxes on increased value from developing or improving the property including buildings, equipment, property improvements and any other taxable investment. Existing businesses as well as new could apply to the select board for a TIF within the district once established. It would be up to the board to accept or deny each application on a case by case basis.
By sheltering a new taxable value, the majority of the money wouldn't go to RSU 10 and Oxford County assessments and neither would the town lose state revenue sharing.
In April, the board unanimously voted to establish three TIF districts and hire a consultant to complete the necessary work to stimulate economic growth.
Areas designated as such districts then are the Puiia Business Park off Route 108; the “Gateway” area on Waldo, Cumberland and Falmouth streets that fronts Route 2 opposite Hannaford; and the Route 2 corridor in East Rumford.
James Saffian of Pierce Atwood said at least 25 percent of a TIF district area must be blighted, in need of rehabilitation, redevelopment or conservation; or suitable for commercial uses.
A single TIF district cannot be more than 2 percent of the total municipal area. All the TIF districts cannot be more than 5 percent of the total municipal area.
The original assessed value of the TIF districts (at the time of designation) cannot exceed 5 percent of the total municipal taxable value.
Phil Blampied, a member of the town economic development committee, said, "We need incentives to have people invest in our community; pay back developers so they can afford to invest in our community. Also have to consider what cost a new project will incur for the town. If you need to put in sewer lines or water lines, or a new traffic lane. Take each site and give yourselves a rough idea what the cost of development will incur for the town and split the TIF between recovering those costs and crediting the developer."
Saffian confirmed Jim Rinaldo's (member of the town economic development committee) assessment that the town could establish the TIF districts even though there's no businesses yet earmarked for those districts.
"If the townspeople approve those districts, then the selectmen can negotiate at a later date when the developer comes in," he noted.
Saffian said the town can determine the duration of the TIF and the maximum percentage that the TIF will capture.
First thing is to determine where two, maybe three areas to TIF. Second is how long it will last for and how infrastructure benefit from the TIF and how much you can afford. "The only thing to be aware of in pre-approving a blanket TIF is that TIFs have a 30-year life," he said, adding once the district is established, the clock begins ticking. However, the clock can be reset to start over.
While the town controls the parameters of how they want the TIF to function, doing so requires a public hearing and a town meeting vote.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said it would be a special town meeting vote. According to the Charter, the results would be made by a show of hands.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner reviews and approves a TIF request based upon statutory compliance. Amendments require same process as initial designation.
Saffian left the board with a task list which included:
1. Identify TIF district boundaries, which the board has expressed it has completed.
2. Establish TIF term and CEA term if different. There are no businesses currently requesting a TIF within any of the districts the board is seeking to establish. The board will establish broad terms with authorization to negotiate and establish with those requesting a TIF within any of the districts in the future.
3. Establish TIF allocation between Town and developer. Not applicable since the board says no developer exists.
4. Identify TIF performance benchmarks/clawbacks (if any). Not applicable since the board says no developer exists.
5. Identify Town TIF projects and estimated costs. Not applicable since the board says no developer exists.
6. Draft/review TIF development program. This would be blanket TIFs for the three districts.
7. Draft/review TIF CEA. No evaluation can be developed with no developer having expressed interest.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina said they will hold further workshops on this matter.
Following the workshop, Puiia said a timeline will be discussed at a workshop to be held next month.
In other news, the town office will close at noon on Thursday, enabling employees to finish fiscal year-end business.
To that end, selectmen will also convene a special board meeting at 4 p.m. that day in the auditorium.