CHINA TIF COMMITTEE: One of two applications meets funding requirement

by Mary Grow

China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members found only one of two applications submitted to their April 29 meeting met the requirements for TIF funding.

Both requests, from the South China public library and The Town Line newspaper, were submitted under Project C.3 in China’s TIF plan, titled “Marketing the Town as a Business Location.”

Committee members recommended funding for The Town Line, but not for the South China library.

Committee member Jamie Pitney was unsure why either qualified as an example of marketing. Both are valuable assets to the town, he said, but neither does any active marketing; “they just sit there.”

After discussion among committee members and Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood, a majority agreed that some of what the newspaper does, without charging the town, could count as marketing. They mentioned the unpaid advance publicity for major events like China Days in August and China Ice Days in February, and the weekly lists of town events.

They therefore recommended to the select board a $3,000 appropriation for The Town Line operations. The vote was 4-0-1; Pitney abstained, saying he would like the town attorney’s opinion before making a decision.

The library’s request for $30,000 to complete work on its new building, at 27 Jones Road, was received with sympathy. “Nobody wants to make a motion to turn down a library,” Pitney commented.

Committee members tried to fit the request into some category eligible for TIF money, but they failed. They voted unanimously not to recommend TIF funding for the library.

As Pitney pointed out, TIF disbursements are governed by the state’s economic-development-based standards. The local committee’s options are therefore limited.

China’s current TIF document was approved by town voters on June 8, 2021, and by the state Department of Economic and Community Development on Nov. 18, 2021. Pitney suggested it is time for the committee to consider revisions. These could include recommending removing programs that are no longer used, adding programs included in updated state TIF standards and reallocating funding.

Committee members scheduled work sessions to consider revisions for 6 p.m., Monday, May 13; Wednesday, May 29; and Monday, June 10.

An amended TIF document would need approval by China voters, perhaps at the Nov. 5 elections, and by the state.


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