- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

TIF informational meeting in Carrabassett Valley Wednesday

The second informational meeting on proposed amendments to Franklin County’s tax increment financing agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development will be held Wednesday in Carrabassett Valley.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Carrabassett Valley Library. A sparsely attended meeting was held on the changes in Farmington last month. The meetings are meant to brief county residents on the proposed changes and gather their input in advance of a formal public hearing on Oct. 4.

The proposed amendments to the agreement aim to capture more tax money from the company’s Kibby Mountain wind turbine project and broaden the category of projects the county can use the captured revenue for.

In 2008 the county established the agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development, approving a TIF district on Kibby Mountain and Kibby Ridge in northern Franklin County where the company developed a 44-turbine wind farm. The TIF district allows the county to shelter the wind farm’s property tax revenue from state valuation and use the money captured for several categories of county economic development projects. Also included is a credit enhancement agreement in which a percentage of tax revenue paid by TransCanada is reimbursed to the company for a set period of time.

The 20-year agreement includes a $4 million cap on captured revenue. In 2014, county officials realized they would reach the cap before the 20-year agreement expired, so they began looking at ways they could amend the TIF to better benefit the county.

The county will have generated $3.9 million worth of revenue by the end of this year, according to John Cleveland, a consultant working with Franklin County on the TIF amendment process.

Under the current terms of the TIF agreement, 75 percent of tax revenue from the Kibby wind farm is captured. Of that 75 percent of captured revenue, 40 percent is kept by the county and 60 percent is reimbursed to TransCanada in accordance with the credit enhancement agreement.

The proposed changes would increase the percentage of tax revenue captured in the TIF from 75 percent to 100 percent, while the terms of the 60-40 credit enhancement agreement would remain the same. Under the proposed changes, the credit enhancement agreement would expire in 2028. However, the TIF agreement would be extended another 10 years, expiring in 2038.

With the proposal to do away with the credit enhancement 10 years before the TIF agreement expires, the county would benefit from receiving the full 100 percent of the captured tax revenue. The proposed changes also would eliminate a revenue cap from the agreement.

Cleveland said the amendments would mean about $12.4 million in additional money will be generated for the county through the term of the TIF.

Also proposed in the amendments are new categories for projects and programs the TIF revenue can be used for. The county is only allowed to spend TIF revenue on categories that are specifically denoted in the TIF agreement, Cleveland said.

The proposed new development categories include telecommunication upgrades such as high-speed internet and wireless communication, environmental improvements, emergency services, tourism branding such as website design and digital marketing, recreational trails, as well as costs related to the organization and implementation of related TIF programs.

After the Oct. 4 public hearing, which will be held at the Franklin County Superior Courthouse, county commissioners will vote on the proposed changes. If commissioners approve the amendments, the changes will go before the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which has final approval authority over county TIF agreements.

If the proposed amendments are approved at the county and state level, the changes will go into effect in April 2017.