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Franklin County to seek stakeholders input on proposed TIF amendment  

Credit:  DONNA PERRY, Staff Writer | Sun Journal | Thursday, January 8, 2015 | www.sunjournal.com ~~

FARMINGTON – Franklin County commissioners learned Tuesday possible categories that could be included in the 2008 tax-increment financing agreement related to the 44-turbine Kibby Mountain Wind Power Project.

Commissioners are looking to amend the TIF agreement that targets specific areas of the unorganized territory. They want to look at expanding the development program and geographic area to include more categories and more land. They are also looking at the enhancement agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc., a wholly-owned affiliate of TransCanada Corp., which owns the wind energy project in Kibby and Skinner townships.

John Cleveland, president of Community Dynamics Corp. of Auburn, gave commissioners an overview Tuesday of possible categories that the TIF could include. The company has been hired as a consultant to work with the county on developing an amendment.

A stakeholders meeting for people to give input on possible new projects or expansion of current projects is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the Sugarloaf Inn in Carrabassett Valley. A snow date has been set for Thursday, Jan. 29.

Invitations have been sent to organizations that have had grants approved for projects in the past and to those who have shown interest in doing something but didn’t qualify under the current structure of the TIF.

Businesses have also been invited, Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of the Greater Franklin Development Corp., said. She and county Clerk Julie Magoon oversee a committee that recommends grant or scholarship applications to commissioners for approval.

More meetings will be held in the future.

In 2008, it was estimated the county would retain $4 million over 20 years when commissioners entered into a credit-enhancement agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc. The TIF 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.

When the TIF was approved, the estimated cost of the project was $270 million but by 2010, it was estimated to cost $320 million.

The TIF footprint covers a specified area. The TIF was amended in 2011 to include additional categories.

Cleveland told commissioners that not only could they amend the TIF to include more categories allowed under state law, and expand the district, they could consider lengthening the TIF to 30 years and to structure the amendment to get the maximum benefit for the county.

“State law authorizes a list of things you can do. If you don’t have it in your TIF, you cannot do it under the TIF,” he said. “If you have it in the TIF, you don’t have to do it.”

Other possible TIF-related programs Cleveland outlined are district infrastructure projects, including those related to public roads, water system improvements and recreational access infrastructure construction, improvements and maintenance to support recreational use and economic development by improving access to trails and waterways, including but not limited to bridges and dams. Also, capital costs, assembly costs, site development costs and professional service costs related to acquisition of roads and easements over roads that provide access to recreational areas and trails and for telecommunications services, including cellular and broadband infrastructure.

Among other possible programs are investments made necessary by the district that include public safety costs to enhance county emergency radio communications and cellphone service to support the district.

As of Tuesday, the county had spent approximately $517,884 of the $4 million since March 2012 to improve trails and scenic byways and other projects along with granting education scholarships. As of September 2014, the county had received $2.29 million from the TIF, according to county officials.

Source:  DONNA PERRY, Staff Writer | Sun Journal | Thursday, January 8, 2015 | www.sunjournal.com

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

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