RUMFORD — In 20 minutes Thursday night, less than two dozen voters approved creation of three tax increment financing districts to grow jobs and improve the River Valley economy.
There was little discussion at either meeting or the 20-minute public hearing beforehand.
Selectmen must now wait and see if and when investors take notice that Rumford is open for business.
“The big portion of programs like this is to create jobs, and I think we all know that when you create jobs, you create paychecks and those paychecks end up in the local economy,” Town Manager Carlo Puiia said at the hearing.
“So the town may sacrifice some of the collection of property taxes, but in turn, it generates new income that will help stimulate our economy.
“I think the big push here is to try and give businesses an opportunity to come in and create new jobs,” he said.
The new designated TIF districts and associated Omnibus Development Programs are:
* Gateway Area Municipal Development, which comprises 33 lots in 4.74 acres on or near Lincoln and Essex avenues and Hancock, Waldo and Cumberland streets.
* Puiia Business Park Municipal Development, which is 84.65 acres in Lot 131, Tax Map 12. This will be subdivided into smaller lots on Route 108.
* Rumford Falls Municipal Development, which comprises 30 lots in 131.88 acres on or near Prospect and Crescent avenues, Route 2 and Dragoon Road.
Tax increment financing lets a town shelter payments from state and county governments on property that increases in value. Using the extra money it gets from property taxes, the town can finance improvements.
Responding to a question during the hearing, Puiia said once the lots are established as a district, selectmen can't go back and add a new parcel to it.
“You have to tell the state exactly where you're going to have a district,” he said.
“Again, this is not going to be a one-size-fits-all perfect document. You can't designate your entire town as a TIF district.
“It's by no means perfect, however, it is a good tool for the town to be able to entice or attract businesses,” he said.
“This isn't anything that other towns aren't doing. But again, we know we have some good commercial land, and we've got parcels that are probably being underutilized, so let's hope that new development is much like the Amato's project, where they found a good piece of land with good visibility and they took advantage of that.”
“A lot of towns have (TIF districts), but I think this will put us on a level playing field,” Selectman Brad Adley said. “As a businessman, I think it's a necessary tool to have in our chest right now.”