China TIF committee OKs funds for causeway project

Would need voter approval if selectmen agree

by Mary Grow

China’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee members agreed on several recommendations to selectmen at a workshop session Oct. 14. One involves spending TIF money (and will need approval from voters if selectmen approve it). The rest are plans for reallocating money among projects to better balance needs with approved funds.

The spending recommendation is to add $250,000 to the $750,000 voters allocated in 2017 for the causeway project, the new bridge and related improvements at the head of China Lake’s east basin. Town Manager Dennis Heath, who oversees finances for the committee, estimates that much will be needed to finish the work.

If selectmen approve, the additional money could be moved for bookkeeping purposes from the category of matching funds for grants (none has been spent in four years).

The exact amount needed for the causeway work is uncertain; Heath and committee members are waiting for engineering plans for walkways, replacement railings, shoreline improvements and other amenities.

There was agreement that the committee should oversee finishing the causeway work as soon as possible and move on to other projects.

One potential project, committee members decided, could be expansion of internet service, or, considering the speed of technological change, its successors; they named the new category “digital communications technologies.” The Maine legislature recently approved adding broadband and related communications to TIF-eligible projects, so China voters will need to approve adding the new category to the town’s TIF document.

Other proposed rearrangements would increase annual allotments for China Community Days, recreational trail work, Thurston Park and the China School Forest. The increases don’t require offsetting decreases, because the TIF account had unallocated money, Heath said.

The allotments do not automatically spend money. Organizations submit applications that TIF committee members review and, on the committee’s recommendation, selectmen review. Town meeting voters then approve or reject annual TIF spending recommended by selectmen.

Tod Detre submitted an application of behalf of the Broadband Committee at the Oct. 14 workshop, and Four Seasons Club President Tom Rumpf said his application for trail work is ready. The next regular TIF Committee meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4.


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