[ exact phrase in "" • ~10 sec • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


LOCATION/TYPE

News Home
Archive
RSS

Subscribe to RSS feed

Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

Sign up for daily updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links

Alerts

Press Releases

FAQs

Publications & Products

Photos & Graphics

Videos

Allied Groups

After yearlong debate, Bingham residents approve TIF  

Credit:  By Erin Rhoda, Staff Writer, Morning Sentinel, www.onlinesentinel.com 8 March 2011 ~~

BINGHAM – After a year of negotiating and several heated public debates, residents approved a plan Monday that will supply them with millions of dollars for economic development projects and provide tax relief to a commercial wind project developer.

About 90 people in the 946-person town filled the Quimby Middle School gymnasium Monday night for the annual Town Meeting. They approved a tax incentive plan that will funnel about $6.5 million in property tax increases – driven by a planned 50-turbine wind project by First Wind – into an economic development fund over the next 30 years.

“I think it helps this town economically,” resident Matt Melcher said after the secret ballot vote of 45-28.

His cousin, Lucas Melcher, said, “Anything that can help this town is a good thing.”

After a half-hour public hearing and another 30 minutes of discussion, 62 percent of the residents in attendance decided to accept the deal that would grant them a significant amount of money for development items, such as upgrades to the town’s waste water treatment facility, a marketing campaign to promote tourism, creation of recreational trails and construction of a boat landing. They made the decision in the wake of several comments from people who opposed the proposal and urged residents not to give the Boston-based wind developer what they described as a handout.

After a half-hour public hearing and another 30 minutes of discussion, 62 percent of the residents in attendance decided to accept the deal that would grant them a significant amount of money for development items, such as upgrades to the town’s waste water treatment facility, a marketing campaign to promote tourism, creation of recreational trails and construction of a boat landing. They made the decision in the wake of several comments from people who opposed the proposal and urged residents not to give the Boston-based wind developer what they described as a handout.

“This is your money that you’re donating to First Wind to help them finance this project,” said Alan Michka, a resident of Lexington Township and chairman of the board of Friends of the Highland Mountains. “Don’t let them fool you into thinking this is a good idea for you.”

Under the proposal, First Wind will receive about $5.97 million in tax relief. The town will receive about $6.5 million for economic development projects, with another $5.34 million entering the town’s general fund.

The captured increase in property tax revenue will come from an expected seven turbines in the northeast corner of Bingham, placed there by Bingham Wind Power LLC, which is owned by First Wind. About 45 more turbines are planned to stretch into the Somerset County township of Mayfield and the Piscataquis County township of Blanchard. The company intends to submit its permit applications in the spring.

Without the TIF, the gains in property tax revenue would not have been sheltered and would have flowed normally into the town’s general fund. Although possible, it was not guaranteed that residents’ total tax bills would have decreased without the TIF, because the town would have appeared richer to the state. The increased valuation could have led to eventual decreases in state aid for education and revenue-sharing subsidy and eventual increases in county taxes owed, First Wind representatives and selectmen have said.

First Selectman Steve Steward said town officials have been negotiating for a year with First Wind to create a beneficial TIF arrangement. “We worked our tails off on this, and it’s a good thing,” Steward said.

Resident Linda Cirell said she was disappointed more money wasn’t negotiated to come to the town. “It’s like, we want to keep most of the money,” she said.

Some residents said Monday they would not support any aspect of a wind farm in their town, decrying its potential adverse impact on the landscape and tourism. They said the purpose of a TIF is to attract businesses that will provide jobs. A wind farm will bring few long-term jobs, they said.

Resident Alan Wilder said the 450- to 490-foot turbines will be a detriment to the landscape. “I would feel very terrible if I could say I voted for a TIF,” he said. “I cannot say I feel good to say I put that on our lands. There’s no way.”

Michka said all the turbines planned for Somerset County – as many of 300 in the coming years – will harm tourism. “It’s not going to be a tourism draw. You can go ahead and kiss the tourist industry goodbye,” he said.

Residents Jack and Margy Flynn are among those currently circulating a petition to set a 180-day moratorium on any wind power project developments or permitting, in order to draft a wind development ordinance, which ultimately would be subject to approval by residents.

“There is nothing in place to protect the community,” Flynn said. “We have a very uncomfortable feeling here.”

Source:  By Erin Rhoda, Staff Writer, Morning Sentinel, www.onlinesentinel.com 8 March 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding
Donate $5 PayPal Donate

Share:


News Watch Home

Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

Wind Watch on Facebook

Share

CONTACT DONATE PRIVACY ABOUT SEARCH
© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.
Share

 Follow: