Warrant aimed at development

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POLAND – The spring town warrant will ask that voters come to town meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday prepared to support economic growth initiatives.

The 48-article warrant includes an article to increase the tax levy, and another to create a commercial village district on Route 26. The meeting will take place on the first floor of town hall.

Article 24 proposes selling a 15-year bond to raise $1.9 million to design and construct a public water main extension to Poland from Auburn via Lewiston Junction and Empire roads. The capital improvement project would accrue an additional estimated $1 million from the tax-increment financing account over the 15-year period.

One selectman is wondering why the town would choose to take on extra debt.

“The TIF reports aren’t finished so no one knows how much money is actually in the TIF account,” Selectman Glenn Peterson said. “But I’m under the impression that there is enough in the TIF. So why not just pay it off now and save $1 million?”

Article 6 asks voters to increase the property tax levy limit established by state law for Poland. The override would entail increasing the core municipal commitment of $1.9 million and the town’s gross municipal 2007 budget of $3.7 million.

The warrant also proposes creating a Poland Downtown Village District. Article 25, which was supported by many town officials and residents at a recent pubic hearing, would establish a downtown district using tax-increment financing. TIF is commonly used to publicly finance public improvements and enhanced infrastructure in a defined area – in the case of Poland’s new village district, the Route 26 corridor. The cost of improvements to the area would be repaid by the contributions of future tax revenues from participants.

Officials say the new village would encourage economic development, creating employment opportunities and broadening and improving the tax base by shifting the residential tax burden. Selectmen signed the warrant approving the article; the Budget Committee abstained.

The warrant proposes a variety of land-use changes, and asks voters to appropriate $30,000 from the town’s Poland Spring Bottling Co. tax to continue the town’s economic development strategy.

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