A Public Hearing on Rangeley’s Downtown Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) was held on December 8, 2020 at 5:00pm. These hearings are required by State statutes as a prerequisite to a Selectmen’s vote to adopt a TIF District and TIF Development Program.
The 677.97 acre District contains expanded downtown areas of Rangeley and Oquossoc. (See map at Town Office.). This TIF District and Program will have a 30 year term commencing on July 1, 2021 and expiring on June 30, 2051.
A common misconception is that all new properties included in a TIF District get a tax break. A tax break is possible under the Credit Enhancement Agreement provision contained in the TIF Development Program but it is not always utilized.
The current assessed value of all property in the TIF District is determined at its start. All increases in assessed value resulting from improvements and new development in the District going forward are tracked separately and referred to as Increased Assessed Value. Up to 100% of the tax money generated from the Increased Assessed Value can be “captured” as TIF revenue and placed in an account for TIF projects. Voters will have an opportunity to “capture” less than 100% at the annual Town meeting. This is an important provision because the TIF revenue is not deposited in the Town fund which reduces the amount of money needed to be raised through taxation. The method by which the “capture” percentage goes before voters remains to be worked out.
The Increased Assessed Value is not added to Rangeley’s total valuation therefore “sheltering” it from Increased county taxes, losses of municipal revenue sharing and State aid to education.
It is projected that over the thirty year life of the TIF there will be an Increased Assessed Value of $17,000,000.00, which translates into approximately $6.5 million in revenue or a yearly average of $216,365.00.
Expected TIF benefits include an expanded and diversified tax base. Improved public facilities will provide an impetus for new commercial development helping to strengthen the local economy. The creation and retention of jobs is a major TIF goal.
An important segment of the TIF Development Program is a chart in section 2.03 which describes the potential public facilities improvements and programs proposed over the 30 year life of the TIF. These potential projects cover a wide range of improvements including infrastructure expansion, public safety, broadband, pedestrian and bike traffic, street scapes, building enhancements, etc. The TIF share of costs associated with these projects is estimated to be $6,490,960.00 or all of the revenue the TIF is projected to “capture”.
The TIF Development Program’s authorization of the Board of Selectmen to determine which TIF projects move forward was a topic of discussion at the Public Hearing. It was suggested the townspeople would be better served if they were given the opportunity to vote on TIF projects at a Town meeting. The TIF account money is taxpayer money and may total several million dollars. A Town vote could be more representative of the public wishes than a 3 person majority vote of the Selectmen. There was not much interest in amending the TIF Development Program to include language for a Town vote due to the Selectmen’s desired TIF time table. The Town’s TIF attorney, Alyssa Tibbetts and two Selectmen thought a separate TIF policy could be written that addressed this issue. A TIF policy would provide a better understanding of the complete process if it was written prior to the March 9, 2021 Special Town Meeting when the TIF gets voted on.
With no further discussion, the Public Hearing was closed at 5:41pm. The Board of Selectmen called their meeting to order at 5:42pm. The Selectmen then voted unanimously to adopt the Rangeley and Oquossoc Village Downtown TIF District and TIF Development Program. The meeting adjourned at 5:46pm.
The December 21, 2020 Board of Selectmen’s meeting agenda will include an item to approve a TIF warrant article for the March 9, 2021 SpecialTown Meeting. All voters are urged to read the TIF Development Program and TIF District Maps to gain a better understanding of this proposal for a more informed vote.
Information is available on the Town’s webpage and paper copies at the Town Office. Questions and comments can be directed to the Town Office.