FARMINGTON – Franklin County commissioners set a public hearing Tuesday on proposed amendments to the county’s Enterprise and Tax Increment Financing Development Program.
The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 31, upstairs in the courtroom at the Franklin County Courthouse.
County commissioners entered into a credit enhancement agreement in 2008 with TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc., a wholly-owned affiliate of TransCanada Corp. The agreement is related to the development of the 44-turbine Kibby Wind Power Project on Kibby Mountain and Kibby Range in northern Franklin County.
The agreement allows for 75 percent of the new taxes to be retained by the county over 20 years, with county commissioners reimbursing the company 60 percent of those new taxes annually for 20 years. The remainder of the TIF funds would be dedicated to the county for economic development in the unorganized territory.
The county is expected to retain $4 million over 20 years to enhance economic development solely in that area.
Since the initial program document was adopted in May 2008, the state Legislature has made changes to what could be funded in a county TIF development program.
Amendments to the original document include separating a couple of categories and giving more details and adding some new categories.
Groups will be able to come forward to a committee made up of unorganized territory residents, among others, and ask for a review of grant projects. Commissioners have the final say on approval of those grants. There would be a matching requirement, Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay said.
Richard Fotter, a resident of Wyman Township, stressed the need to alert the public in the unorganized territory to come to the hearing to learn about the proposal.
The hearing will be advertised in several newspapers. Copies of the proposed amended document will also be available in the area and at the courthouse.
The money allotted in each category can be changed in the future, depending on need, McGrane said.
Among the changes proposed are the separation of the category of public safety/fire protection and emergency communication equipment. Public safety/fire protection is listed at $500,000 over 20 years, annual average, $25,000; emergency communication equipment, $440,000 overall, $22,000 annual average.
There is a proposed addition of a study of county emergency communications capacity and strategic plan for improvements for a one-time cost of $30,000.
Other categories added are global positioning system plotting and mapping of trails, $20,000 overall, $1,000, annually.
Also added were costs of employment training programs to provide skills development to residents of the unorganized territory, $158,000 overall. Annual average was not listed. In addition, the new category of trail improvements was added that would make available funds to be used to capitalize on significant economic development potential of recreational trails, $553,000, overall, $27,650 annually.
Other items covered under the original document are scenic byway improvements such as signage, scenic outlooks for Routes 17 and 27, $500,000 overall, $25,000 annually; snowmobile trail signage, $2,000 overall, $100 annually; tourism packaging and marketing assistance, $250,000 overall, $12,500 annually; and nature-based tourism, $250,000 overall, $12,500 annually.
Also, planning and dues for the UT area for Greater Franklin Development Corp. annual dues, $600,000 overall, $30,000 annually; business recruitment marketing, $100,000 overall, $5,000 annually; Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments dues prorated for unorganized territory, $27,000 overall, $1,350 annually; commercial revolving loan fund and county match for economic development grants, $20,000 overall, $1,000 annually; and TIF administration costs, $200,000 overall, $10,000 annually.
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