Board discusses water TIF, school district mergers

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KINGFIELD – Negotiations for tax increment financing for Poland Spring Water Co. are moving slowly, Selectman John Dill said recently.

The committee has met eight times since December to discuss how the TIF agreement works and to seek tax relief for Kingfield property owners. The committee has until April 2008 to complete the work, he said.

One reason for the slow progress, Dill said, is the school consolidation issue. If SAD 58 joins another school system, there will be more property in the district and the TIF would not affect the schools as much, he said, as it would if the district remains the same.

The effect on other towns concerns SAD 58 School Superintendent Quenten Clark, who said he hopes Kingfield will communicate with other towns in the district regarding the potential effect a TIF agreement could have on them.

The whole school district, as it is, has a budget of less than $300 million raised by property taxes in the district’s five towns. If Kingfield gives Poland Spring a 10 percent TIF, it could cause some concern for the other four towns as there will be a smaller slice of the Kingfield budget pie to share with school costs, Clark said.

On the other hand, the effect on the towns after school consolidation would be diminished as the tax base would be larger. If the state proposed whole region becomes one “megadistrict,” then the budget could change from less than $300 million to approximately $2 billion but the tax base would be larger so the effect on individual communities would be less, Clark said.

Norm Higgins, representing the state Department of Education, will give a presentation at 7 p.m. today in Mt. Blue High School’s auditorium to explain the state’s proposal for consolidation in the Franklin County area, Clark said.

Clark, who had met with the TIF committee recently, said he just hopes that Kingfield will communicate with the other towns before doing anything.

“They have till April of 2008 and we should be well along on the school consolidation issue by then,” he said.

While Poland Spring continues working on an agreement with Kingfield, said Terry Coffin, future plant manager, construction is progressing on the facility although it’s a few weeks behind schedule.

Once the committee has all the facts in place, he said, he expects they will take the proposed agreement to the town.

Selectmen and citizens John Goldfrank, John Witherspoon and Tom Hildreth comprise the committee that has been working with Greg Mitchell from the consulting firm of Eaton Peabody. He has been helping them work through the plan, Dill said.

The committee is planning to hold public hearings in September in order to explain the TIF and its benefits to the town, Dill said. A special town meeting to vote on the issue will follow the hearings.

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