Franklin County panel opens three proposals to update TIF

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FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners opened three consulting proposals Tuesday to make changes to the county’s 2008 Unorganized Territory tax-increment financing district.

Commissioners voted to postpone making a decision until county Clerk Julie Magoon reviews the proposals to make sure all of the commissioners’ specifications are contained in the proposal. It is expected commissioners will make a decision at their next meeting at 9 a.m. Dec. 2 at the county courthouse.

The proposals were from Noreen Norton, a consultant of Rudman Winchell law firm in Bangor, not to exceed $19,500; Community Dynamics Corp. of Auburn, $7,550; and Shoshana Cook Mueller of Bernstein Shur in Portland, not to exceed $12,500.

There were some additional costs listed in some of the proposals that Magoon will look at to determine their bottom-line costs.

Before any changes can be made to the TIF, it would have to be reopened, necessitating a public meeting once a proposal is developed, Magoon told commissioners in September.

The commission met with the three consultants in October to tell them what commissioners were looking for in a proposal.

The topics commissioners want to look at include expanding the development program and geographic area to include more categories and more area that can be covered under the pact. Some of the grant projects on trails that have been improved or are in the process of being approved extend into other areas in the unorganized territory.

The current TIF covers only a specified area in the UT.

Another topic is the enhancement agreement with TransCanada. Money is coming in faster than initially expected, Magoon previously said. It was unknown when the agreement was approved what the wind operation’s value would be once it was completed.

Project categories with the unorganized townships that qualify for funding range from scenic byway improvements to tourism packaging and marketing assistance to global positioning systems and trail improvements. Public safety/fire protection, emergency communications and scholarships for education also are qualified categories.

Franklin County has received $2.29 million as of September under a 2008 tax-increment financing enhancement agreement it has with TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc. related to Kibby Wind Power in northern Franklin County.

Franklin County commissioners also approved grants in the amount of $390,553 for improvements to trails and scenic byway areas and other projects since March 2012 to help increase economic development in the unorganized territory covered in the agreement.

In 2008, it was estimated the county would retain $4 million over 20 years when commissioners entered into a credit-enhancement agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc., a wholly-owned affiliate of TransCanada Corp. The agreement is related to the 44-turbine Kibby Wind Power Project on Kibby Mountain and Kibby Range in northern Franklin County. The project was valued at about $320 million in 2010.

The current TIF agreement allows for 75 percent of the new taxes to be retained by the county over 20 years, with county commissioners reimbursing the company 60 percent of those new taxes annually for 20 years. The remainder of the TIF funds were to be dedicated to the county for economic development in the unorganized territory.

Commissioners amended the TIF in 2011 to add more categories to the development agreement after the state Legislature expanded the areas that TIF money could be spent in.

There is more than $60,000 in the administrative account in the TIF to pay for the consultant.

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