RUMFORD — Selectmen unanimously agreed Thursday night to hold a public hearing and special town meeting Feb. 23 to vote on tax increment financing agreements for three new TIF districts.
The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. and the special town meeting at 7 p.m. in Rumford Falls Auditorium.
At previous meetings, selectmen tagged three areas in town as municipal development and TIF districts, in which to promote economic development investment.
These are The Gateway Area, where the new Amato’s restaurant was built by the Hosmer Fields Complex; The Puiia Business Park on Route 108 coming into town; and The Rumford Falls Entryway.
The latter is the area from just before McDonald’s on Route 2 where the proposed brand name hotel may be built, Puiia said.
Puiia explained the draft agreements for all three districts, and read a section of The Gateway Area district’s narrative.
He said the Maine Legislature established tax increment financing as an economic development tool for municipalities to provide new jobs, to improve and broaden the tax base, and to improve the general economy of Maine.
The Gateway district would have 33 lots in the downtown where the general populace lives, Puiia said.
Selectmen would ultimately combine them into six to eight TIF districts when and if specific development proposals are presented.
He said the TIF agreements give the town flexibility to negotiate aid with a developer. They’re also 30-year plans.
Selectman Brad Adley labeled the agreements “an interesting read, but a little dry.”
Puiia suggested the Feb. 23 date for the hearing and special town meeting to provide time to finalize the agreements.
After Selectman Jeff Sterling motioned to hold the two meetings on that date and it was seconded, Puiia suggested they declare a critical circumstance exists to do so. He said that after townspeople OK them, the agreements must also be approved by early April by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
Sterling rescinded his motion and Adley his second, then both repeated their actions, albeit after Sterling deemed the topic to be a critical circumstance worth taking action early.
In other business, the board unanimously tabled approval of the cable TV franchise agreement with Time Warner. Puiia said additional language is needed to include an exit clause should an issue arise with Time Warner.
Otherwise, the town would be locked into the 10-year contract after town meeting voters approve it.
Puiia said town lawyer Jennifer Kreckel suggested adding that into the contract. He will discuss it with the cable company, and put the matter before selectmen at their next meeting.