CHINA: Proposed TIF revisions go to selectmen

by Mary Grow

China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members continued review of the proposed Second Amendment to China’s TIF document at a Dec. 17 meeting, and planned to resume discussion the evening of Dec. 29. (See also The Town Line, Dec. 17, p. 1.)

The revisions they propose will be submitted to selectmen who, if they approve, will present them to voters.

The first decision Dec 17 was to advise deleting a very specific recommendation that a town-owned lot on Fire Road 44 become a site for a commercial laboratory or business related to water quality and fresh-water fisheries. All seven members voting agreed.

The next decision, on which Brent Chesley and Chairman Tom Michaud dissented, was to postpone to Dec. 29 further consideration of adding TIF funding for work done outside China’s TIF district to benefit in-town goals, specifically the Alewife Restoration Initiative (ARI) that is removing or adapting dams in Vassalboro to open China Lake to migrating alewives.

The third decision, again unanimous, was to retain funding for economic development programs, but to amend the wording to eliminate the reference to China’s non-existent Community and Development Economic Development Department.

By another unanimous decision, a group of goals in the current TIF document was left substantively unchanged. They include funding for town events like China Days, marketing the town to prospective businesses, providing job training, maintaining the revolving loan fund for town businesses and helping support recreational trails. The last item was slightly amended: it stills allows connections with neighboring towns but deletes an incomplete list of them.

Members were also unanimous in agreeing to postpone any decision on the section allowing TIF funds for local grant-matching until Town Manager Becky Hapgood, who is also TIF and Town Treasurer, gets more history on that use.

Two new proposed uses for TIF funds were added to the draft program.

One would let TIF money support fisheries and wildlife programs and water quality projects, including but not limited to LakeSmart (which helps lakefront property-owners control run-off), CBI (the courtesy boat inspection program designed to bar invasive plants) and other water-quality activities of the China Lake Association and the China Region Lakes Alliance. Jamie Pitney abstained on the vote.

The second new proposal would make all costs “associated with broadband development, expansion and improvement” eligible for TIF funding. It was approved for inclusion without discussion, with Michael “Mickey” Wing opposed.

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 29, to continue reviewing the wording of the TIF document. It will be a virtual meeting.


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