Letter: Don’t be fooled by Scarborough TIF proposal

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On Aug. 15 the Scarborough Town Council will hold a workshop on the creation of a Downtown Tax Increment Financing District. The council is primed to rush through a large, complex and potentially risky financial transaction that could cause significant property tax increases in the future.

At the most basic level, all a TIF does is allocate some future tax dollars to specific projects. But TIFs sometimes don’t go as planned and property taxes are increased to pay for them. Example: The Haigis Parkway TIF has so far cost taxpayers nearly $3 million in increased property taxes, and counting.

The new Downtown TIF is being proposed by the developers of Scarborough Downs as part of creating a downtown or “main street” for Scarborough, an obsession of some town leaders.

But the real hook for this proposed new TIF is that it will be used to finance a $20 million community center facility for the town. It will be portrayed as being of no cost to the taxpayers; that we’ll be using someone else’s money. Please don’t be fooled by this line. As with lunches, there is no such thing as a free $20 million community center.

Take action now. Contact the councilors and tell them you don’t want to place a “bet” on Scarborough Downs without fully understanding the financial impact of the TIF. Attend the workshop at Town Hall on Aug, 15. Time is short and the time to act is now.

Larry Hartwell