On March 7, Bingham will vote on whether to grant a Tax Increment Financing agreement to First Wind for its proposed grid-scale industrial wind development.
TIFs were designed to entice a developer to site a business within a certain town, rather than another. It was thought that a new business would bring a large number of jobs to the host town, thereby off-setting the loss in property tax revenue the town otherwise would receive.
Industrial wind developments are another case entirely. Wind developers are asking towns for hand-outs, even though we have what they desperately need – mountain ridges.
Wind facilities don’t bring an abundance of new jobs to an area; the three or four full-time employees rarely are chosen from local workers. Most turbine manufacturers require that their own technicians staff the positions.
Joan Fortin, attorney for First Wind, acknowledged that the developer was asking Bingham taxpayers to help finance its project. She and Bingham’s attorney, Bill Dale, also told residents the town would have greater financial benefit if it did not grant a TIF.
First Wind, a for-profit industry already heavily subsidized by our tax dollars, still wants residents to give up a potential reduction in their taxes by granting it a tax break.
Developers stress the short-term economic upswing an area experiences when a wind facility is being built, but will that be enough to sustain businesses when tourists realize that the unique area from Bingham to Jackman is no longer an unspoiled destination?
For several months, the Somerset County Commissioners studied the pros and cons of granting a TIF for the Mayfield portion of the project and voted “no.”
An informational meeting about this issue is scheduled for Bingham residents from 6-8 tonight (Feb. 15) at Quimby Middle School.
Karen Bessey Pease
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