China TIF committee hears financial reports

by Mary Grow

China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members heard reports on how some of the town’s TIF money has been spent and approved a new $10,000 grant at their July 14 meeting.

Four Seasons Club President Tom Rumpf reported his group spent more than $65,000 out of $75,000 allocated from TIF, mostly on trail improvements. His presentation was illustrated with before and after photographs showing stretches of bumpy mud replaced by either a bridge or a gravel trail.

The club spent $25,000 on the concrete slab for their planned equipment storage garage, Rumpf said.

Rumpf told the committee the guardrails along the roadway and sidewalks at the head of China Lake’s east basin, part of the TIF-funded causeway project, need extended rub rails to protect snowmobilers and four-wheelers. Committee members accepted his offer to have Four Seasons Club members install them.

Scott Pierz, president of the China Lake Association and the China Region Lakes Alliance, praised Rumpf for his “excellent presentation” and added, “I’m so sad that I have to go next.”

Pierz reported on three main projects the groups carry out, the Gravel Road Rehabilitation Program (GRRP), Courtesy Boat Inspections (CBI) and LakeSmart.

Working in cooperation with road associations, the China Lake Association has completed run-off controls on Fire Road 11 and begun erosion control work on Fire Road 37, Pierz said. Work on Fire Road 41 is in an early stage.

CBI program employees check boats being put in at boat landings for invasive plants. Pierz is pleased that some people return year after year, so they can mentor new team members.

LakeSmart is a state-wide program educating and encouraging shorefront landowners who want to minimize undesirable effects on water quality.

The prolonged and expensive causeway project, which started with a new bridge, is finished, Michaud said. He and Town Manager Becky Hapgood are among those who inspected it. His verdict: “I’m happy with the work.”

The China Broadband Committee’s request is for $10,000 in TIF funds to hire Hawkeye Fiber Optics (also called Hawkeye Connections) to survey existing broadband infrastructure, in order to estimate costs of additional construction to provide expanded service.

Jamie Pitney, who is a member of both the TIF and Broadband committees, and Hapgood explained the plans and their importance.

TIF Committee Chairman Tom Michaud and other members questioned spending $10,000 to get a cost estimate that’s often free. Pitney and Hapgood said that Hawkeye representatives will spend up to two months evaluating telephone poles in town, to determine how many new and replacement ones will be needed. They will also provide information on miles of fiber optic cable and other needs.

The accurate cost estimate will let committee members decide how much they should ask selectmen and voters to borrow to fund the project. The loan repayment is to be funded from broadband user fees, not from taxes.

After three-quarters of an hour’s discussion, the TIF Committee members present voted 4-0, with Pitney abstaining, to recommend selectmen approve the $10,000 grant.

The next TIF Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for Monday evening, Aug. 23. Agenda items are likely to include two postponed from July 14: review of the grant application form and discussion of a schedule for grant requests; and election of committee officers, since Michaud wants to hand over the chairmanship and his wife Marie her unofficial position as committee secretary.


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