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Wind farm TIF approved

FARMINGTON – The Franklin County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved creation of a 20-year tax break for TransCanada’s Kibby Wind Power Project that will be built in the unorganized territory near the Canadian border.

Public opposition to the deal has revolved around the $9 million of property taxes TransCanada would have paid on the $220 million taxable investment that under the Tax Increment Financing program, will be returned to the company. That money would have lowered municipality’s county taxes substantially, local officials have said.

Support for the project has been the $4 million the county will get over 20 years to invest into economic development improvements in the Franklin County unorganized territory. The money will be used to increase tourism and market the region, improve emergency telecommunications and services in the remote townships, use for mapping trails, support half the county’s annual fee for Greater Franklin Development Corporation, and for scenic byway improvements.

Commissioner Fred Hardy of New Sharon said the decision was the hardest he has had to make in his 15 years on the board.

“I firmly believe the TIF can be a benefit to Franklin County. I’m not doing this to give TransCanada a tax break. I am doing it to benefit the entire county,” he said.

“Everyone will benefit with additional economic development,” he said. “Tourism is the only (industry) we have left.”

Public comment at last week’s public hearing was overwhelmingly opposed to the TIF and commissioners continued to receive letters and calls through Tuesday morning. They said those comments appeared to favor the tax break deal but a tally of the responses was not immediately available.

David Cota, a vocal opponent of the TIF for TransCanada, said he was anxious to see copies of the letters to ensure that the public hearing process was honored.

By Morning Sentinel Staff Report

news.mainetoday.com

3 June 2008