China TIF committee tackles four topics

by Mary Grow

China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members had four topics on their minds as they met June 15: money, the second phase of the causeway project at the head of China Lake’s east basin, the impending change in town managers and needed amendments to China’s TIF plan.

The money issue was covered by retiring Town Manager Dennis Heath, whose financial update showed TIF books are in decent shape. A fund redistribution will be needed, however, to finish paying for the causeway project.

The second phase, installing a retaining wall and a walkway along most of the shoreline from west of the new bridge to the boat landing and improving the landing, is scheduled for this summer and fall.

Committee members approved by consensus the plan Mark McCluskey, of A. E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers, described to the planning board on June 9. It involves seeking bids soon and, after the selectmen approve a contractor, having the work start as late in the summer as possible, to avoid disruptions during the height of boating season.

Incoming Town Manager Becky Hapgood attended the meeting and was asked if she was prepared to take over jobs Heath did during the previous construction, which included financial management and supervision of the work.

Hapgood replied that Heath has been bringing her up to speed, and with help from the committee she is ready. At Heath’s suggestion, committee member Tom Michaud was designated the official representative of the town to oversee the contractor’s work, with the understanding he and Hapgood will collaborate.

Heath said China’s TIF document needs two changes, one to allow TIF funds to be used to promote broadband service and a second to authorize funds for the China Lake Association and the China Region Lakes Alliance to support their water quality protection work.

The changes require committee, selectmen’s, state and voter approval. Committee members would like to have them on the Nov. 3 ballot, which selectmen will be approving late in August. Heath and Hapgood expect the deadline can be met, with assistance from committee members and from Tina Mullins of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, whom Heath commended as very helpful.

The June 5 meeting was the TIF Committee’s first since November 2019, due to early-2020 snowstorm cancellations and then Covid-19. Four members attended, two in person and two via Zoom. The meeting was livestreamed and is available on the town’s website for those wishing to view it.

The next TIF Committee meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 7.


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