Yarmouth expects 3 TIF districts to generate $24M

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YARMOUTH — The town has determined that establishing three tax increment finance districts would generate $24 million in revenue over a 30-year period.

Councilors on Tuesday spoke with Denise Clavette, the town’s new economic development director, about creating the TIF districts: one downtown, one on the northern half of Route 1, and one on the southern half of Route 1.

They scheduled separate public hearings on each district for Aug. 20.

A TIF district uses future gains in taxes to pay for economic development in an area. When a district is established, the property taxes paid in that area become fixed; the current amount is still paid to the town each year, and any increases are put into the TIF fund.

Clavette, along with Shana Cook Mueller, a Bernstein Shur attorney who specializes in economic development and TIFs, discussed the impact the districts would have over the next 30 years.

The projected total TIF revenue over that time period for downtown would be $3.7 million. For Route 1 north it would be $5.6 million, and for Route 1 south it would be $14.9 million.

Cook Mueller said these are only projections and that it is difficult to predict numbers for 30 years.

The town has already applied to the state to establish the districts and must conduct public hearings before moving forward. The Town Council on Tuesday unanimously supported taking the next step.

“Our neighbors are taking advantage of these tools and we need to do that, too,” Councilor Robert Waeldner said.

Many of the councilors agreed that establishing TIF districts would benefit the town, but there was some disagreement about when would be the best date to hold the public hearing. Councilor Pat Thompson noted many residents are away in August.

“It doesn’t look good to schedule public hearings on something so fundamental to the future of Yarmouth at a point in time when half the town is gone,” she said.

Thompson wanted to schedule the public hearing for September, but none of the other councilors agreed. They said they wanted to move forward with establishing the districts sooner rather than later, and decided if the August meeting is poorly attended they would then hold another one in September. 

The town has already taken one step towards establishing a larger downtown TIF district, by agreeing that the village and the waterfront are a cohesive downtown. In order to include the waterfront and marinas in the downtown district, the Town Council first had to officially combine the two areas.

Councilors in a special meeting June 26 approved adopting a study and report from 2012 called “Reconnecting Village to the Working Waterfront.” The report, by Baker Design Consultants, described ways to make the waterfront a continuation of the downtown area by bringing in new businesses and making the area more pedestrian friendly.

According to the June 26 council agenda, a requirement for establishing a TIF district is “the town must have developed a ‘downtown redevelopment plan’ addressing various planning issues relating to the area the town intends to designate as a downtown TIF district.”

Clavette and Cook Mueller on Tuesday said the town has yet to hear back from the state about this plan. If it isn’t approved, the town will need to submit a new plan before holding a public hearing.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.