Falmouth TIF district gets state approval

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FALMOUTH — The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development has approved a new tax increment financing district, Town Manager Nathan Poore said Tuesday.

Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth’s director of long range planning, said the town had received “very minor comments back” from the DECD and responded to those comments. He and Poore said those comments were largely related to administrative or format issues.

“If that’s any indication, it’s going to be approved as written for the most part,” Poore said earlier Tuesday, before the application was approved.

The town’s application is for a new OceanView and natural gas tax increment financing district, to capture over $24 million in value.

Poore said the town had last heard from the DECD on March 23, when the agency asked for some minor corrections, clarification of the TIF boundaries, and certain documents like the signed and certified minutes from the March 9 Town Council meeting, when the council approved the TIF.

Officials at DECD declined to comment until after April 1.

Holtwijk said the TIF district is just under 311 acres, is made up of 23 projects and will last for 30 years. He said the first year of the TIF won’t capture anything, but for the rest of the TIF’s life it will capture 100 percent of the new value.

The Town Council debated over several meetings how many and which types of projects to include in the TIF, and ultimately ended up with the list of 23. Holtwijk said the result is this and future councils are not obliged to do these projects, but they have the opportunity to.

The list includes common projects like road, intersection and sidewalk repairs, as well as more expansive ideas like gigabit broadband expansion, which is listed as costing $500,000.

“Gigabit expansion, we don’t know (how much it will cost),” Holtwijk said. “We just said we think it’s important we think it may cost some money, we think this is a reasonable number.”

Poore said the benefit of a TIF is that it allows you to “capitalize on the true value of every tax dollar.” He said this means the town would get to use every tax dollar for what it’s worth, rather than losing value to places like revenue sharing and assessed county taxes.

“That can help us continue to fund those capital infrastructure and reinvesting in some of those areas especially to help spur on economic development and growth in the growth areas,” Poore said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.