China Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Committee members spent the first hour of their Dec. 29 meeting re-discussing lists of allowable TIF expenditures they had voted on at their Dec. 17 meeting (see The Town Line, Dec. 31). Committee member Brent Chesley then reminded them of the two items left undecided Dec. 17, and they acted on those.
By state law, TIF money can be spent only for economic development. The term is broad enough to encompass, in China, measures that encourage businesses to relocate to town and to assist with business expansion; job creation programs; town activities that promote China as a business, recreational and tourist center; and protection of the environmental qualities that attract visitors.
China’s TIF is funded from taxes Central Maine Power Company pays on its north-south line through town and its South China substation.
The document committee members worked with is found on the town website, china.govoffice.com, in a pdf file named 2017 TIF First Amendment. The pdf is under the Tax Increment Financing Committee, which is under Boards and Committees. Committee members reviewed the items in boxes on pages 4 and 5, plus two new items discussed at the previous meeting.
They unanimously reaffirmed their Dec. 17 decisions to include both new items. The first, relating to fisheries, wildlife and water quality, was re-discussed at length and reworded to clarify what water bodies and activities it is intended to cover.
The second, allowing TIF funds to help with broadband service improvements, was re-included by a unanimous vote, after a short discussion about its relationship to other development programs.
After a discussion of correct terms for and possible rearrangements among economic development projects, committee members voted again, this time with three abstentions, to delete references to supporting a research laboratory on Fire Road 44 and to the non-existent economic development department, and to support other development projects and programs as listed, with minor rewording.
Chesley then reminded the others that the items deferred Dec. 17 were using TIF funds for matching funds for grants and to support projects outside China’s TIF district, specifically removal of dams in Vassalboro that prevent alewife migration into China Lake.
The first was approved 7-1 with Jamie Pitney opposed, because he considers it double-dipping. The second was approved unanimously.
The next two steps are to prepare and print an updated TIF document, referred to as the Second Amendment (because China’s 2015 TIF was amended for the first time in 2017), and to reallocate TIF funds among the revised categories.
Pitney volunteered to rewrite the recommendations to include the changes, with help from Chairman Tom Michaud and his wife Marie, who took notes in the absence of committee secretary Trishea Story.
Pitney moved that the committee ask selectmen’s approval to hire a Portland attorney who is an expert on TIFs to assist with the final document. Committee members approved, with Daniel Boivin and Michael “Mickey” Wing abstaining because they would like an hourly rate and an estimate of the hours needed before supporting the proposal.
At the beginning of the meeting, Michaud welcomed newly appointed committee member James “J.J.” Wentworth.
The next TIF Committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 14. Michaud plans to begin the process of allocating TIF money among the programs and projects.
The committee’s final document will be a recommendation to China selectmen. If they find it satisfactory, they will submit it to voters for approval or rejection.
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