Waldoboro contemplates Tax Increment Financing, two ordinance amendments

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 3:45pm

WALDOBORO — In June, the people of Waldoboro will vote on a pair of ordinance amendments and whether the town should establish Tax Increment Financing. 

Changes being made to the Land Use Ordinances, if approved by voters, are partly cosmetic, to make the ordinances easier to read, and partly to align the town’s ordinances with revisions made by the state to its model ordinances. 

A portion of text has been removed from Article 7 of the Land Use Ordinance regarding timber harvesting as the state is now taking responsibility for supervising timber harvesting and enforcing regulations, according to meeting minutes from the March 12 Select Board meeting. 

Read the proposed changes to the ordinances in full: Article 7, Article 10

The townspeople will decide in June whether Waldoboro should establish Tax Increment Financing. 

Minutes from the March 26 Select Board meeting note Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is “an economic development tool that captures incremental property taxes for certain pre-defined areas in town, which may not exceed 2% of the town’s entire land area.” 

In Waldoboro, the proposed area would include the Route 1 commercial and industrial area, the industrial park off Route 32, areas having development potential including the former A.D. Gray School and areas near the Pine St. Public Landing and the Marine Park on Dutch Neck.

“Assessed values of real estate within the TIF District would be frozen as of April 5, 2019,” the minutes note. “Taxes on these parcels would continue to go into the General Fund. If a new factory were built or a new commercial business were established on a parcel within the TIF District, the additional, incremental taxes from these new enterprises would go into a separate TIF Fund to be used for economic development in Waldoboro. The proposed TIF fund would remain in place for 30 years.” 

Spending of TIF money requires approval of the town’s citizens by a vote and none of the money would be spent on private projects, only projects with public benefits.

A TIF provides the opportunity to use local funds for economic projects, according to the minutes, and may also enable the Town to leverage additional funds.

The minutes cited Rockland’s desire to rebuilding a fishing pier: Rockland, according the minutes, used an initial $200,000 from its TIF to get a $350,000 grant, then got another $200,000 grant and an $850,000 grant, for an ultimate total of $1.6 million in funds for the fish pier. 

“As a town’s municipal valuation goes up, the town may get less State funding; but with the TIF in place, the State’s valuation of town property excludes the incremental tax values obtained in the TIF district, ensuring that the State’s valuation remains lower than it otherwise would,” according to the minutes. “The lower State valuation means the town will continue to be eligible for more, not less, funding from the State. The primary purpose of TIF is to allow the town to address economic development. The intention in Waldoboro is to use TIF money to improve public amenities such as roads, sidewalks, broadband, and other infrastructure. Areas along the river can be used for aquaculture.”

The minutes noted that with a TIF, Waldoboro will not see “much money” over the next five years. 

If Waldoboro had adopted a TIF two decades ago, however, the town would have more funds available to invest in infrastructure. 

Reach George Harvey at: sports@penbaypilot.com