Franklin County TIF amendment goes to public hearing

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FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners will hold a a public hearing on Sept. 26 on a proposed amendment to the county’s 2008 tax-increment financing agreement related to the 44-turbine Kibby wind energy facility.

The TIF agreement was with TransCanada, then owner of the project on Kibby Ridge in Kibby and Skinner townships in northern Franklin County. Helix Generation LLC now owns the energy facility.  

The county’s Enterprise TIF District and Development Program was created in 2008 and amended in 2011. 

Commissioners approved a second amendment in October 2016 and submitted it to the state. The commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development did not approve it.

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Commissioners withdrew the application earlier this summer and hired attorney Shana Cook Mueller of Bernstein Shur in Portland to address the department’s concerns and to draft a new amendment application.

Commissioners will hold the public hearing at 6 p.m. in the courtroom upstairs at the Franklin County Courthouse on Main Street.  

The third amendment application adds new public projects to the TIF’s Development Program, extends the district term from 20 years to 30 years, adjusts district boundaries to include some portions of public right of way, provides for the opportunity to public project financing through indebtedness and increases the captured accessed value in the district for use by the county, according to the document. 

The new amendment does not change the amount to be reimbursed to the developer from the original intended amount identified in the original development program and the original credit enhancement agreement. 

A proposed Economic Enhancement Agreement that was not part of the TIF but was submitted to the state with the TIF application will no longer be considered. It would have given the county $3 million to spend throughout Franklin County while the TIF funds need to be spent to benefit the unorganized territory.

The proposed amended development program includes new and expanded categories for scenic byways; telecommunication infrastructure; TIF administration; and emergency communications equipment purchases. 

Also included are transit service capital costs for the unorganized territory and a project improving the water and fisheries quality for Caribou Pond near Kingfield, Carrabassett Valley and Redington Township, which may include an access road and dam improvements.  

Amended TIF district provisions include boundaries to the right of way along Route 4, within the border of Madrid Township and Township E. 

The percentage of increased assessed value from taxable real and personal property to be sheltered in the original district is 75 percent in years one through 10 and 50 percent in TIF years 11-20. The proposed new percentage of valuation to be captured in the amended district for the remaining TIF years eight through 30 is 100 percent.  

The amendment also removes the $4 million cap on TIF revenues that the county could retain to be used on TIF projects. The county reached the $4 million cap on the revenues in late 2016.

dperry@sunmediagroup.net

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