Letter: No deal yet on TIF for Scarborough Downs

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Scarborough Downs has been front and center with Scarborough officials for many months. Last fall public meetings about the new Comprehensive Plan highlighted the importance of the Downs in Scarborough’s future. This winter and spring zoning amendments to refine the vision of the Crossroads Zoning District were evaluated by the Planning Board and Long Range Planning Committee and adopted by the Town Council. Simultaneously the Downs has been presenting its development proposals to the Planning Board. The first phase has now been approved.

In recent months the council held a workshop on the use of tax increment financing. Also recently, councilors have been meeting individually with Downs representatives to continue their education on the project. The town manager and I have also been meeting every other week with the Downs for many months. These meetings have recently become weekly as negotiations of a tax agreement have intensified.

The town manager has led the negotiations for a tax agreement. From the outset we have made it clear that the town does not intend to advance monies or issue bonds for the development of any potential community improvements. The Downs will initially fund all such improvements. We have also made clear that any agreement must have a financial benefit to the town.

I expect this matter to be actively evaluated during the next month and be back before the Town Council for further consideration in September. We continue to survey citizens on the Comprehensive Plan and weighing in on the Downs would be appreciated.

Bill Donovan, chairman
Scarborough Town Council