Proposed Howland TIF district, program detailed at Monday Hearing

By Chris DeBeck 

The town’s proposed tax increment financing program, which faces voters next month, includes opportunities for public input and approval, officials revealed at a Monday Public Hearing.

About 20 people gathered at the American Legion hall to hear about the proposed TIF district, its boundaries and administration during Monday’s meeting, which also included dinner and refreshments.

Howland Town Manager David Wilson explained that “the boundaries of the TIF district. broadly include:

  • The s0-called “Tannery property,” the site of the former Pine Tree Tanning building, as well as land roughly between the King’s Bridge and the Piscataquis River bridge, as well as the Corner Store Property on the other side of the Piscataquis River bridge. This part of the district also includes the Handy Stop store, a storage unit, car wash and the Tannery site itself, Wilson Added.
  • The district also includes portions of LaGrange Road, roughly between the site of the now-closed Rosie’s Restaurant to the Interstate 95 interchange, including business located within that area.
  • And land around the town’s fire state and town garage.

The TIF program includes two public participation elements, Noted Wilson and Jonathan Pottle of Eaton Peabody, a consultant who has been working with the town to develop a potential TIF district and related program.

  1. Any money spent on a particular TIF-related project will require a town vote for final approval,
  2. And any credit enhancement agreements will require a public hearing first, with 10 days notice, before selectman make a final decision.

“It provides transparency and nimbleness,” Pottle explained at the hearing.

Credit enhancement agreements allow developers to ave a portion of the property taxes on the increased value of their project returned to them, with the town keeping the rest.

The TIF will last for 30 years and the town can capture 0 t0 100 percent of the increased property tax values generated by development, Pottle noted.

“The town can make that decision each year,” Pottle added.

Voters will be asked to approve the TIF district and program at the June 12 town meeting referendum.

Should voters approve, the TIF application would then be submitted to state officials, who will take a few months to process it, Pottle explained.

Wilson noted that the town has been working on this since he became town manager nearly two years ago, starting from a discussion on redeveloping the Tannery property to include help for new and existing businesses in town.

“A lot of work has gone into this,” he said. “It’s not something that we though of last week.”

Selectmen, the town’s economic development committee and planning board, among others, have had a hand in the development of the TIF proposal, Wilson noted at Monday’s hearing.