Auburn City Council
Monday, Sept. 18
What happened: The City Council received a presentation from sports tourism consulting firm Huddle Up Group, which arrived in Auburn on Monday to begin its $31,000 study on sports tourism.
Consultant Jon Schmieder told the council that they’ve already conducted a number of interviews of stakeholders in the community, and the process will continue Wednesday with a public meeting at Auburn Hall from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
What it means: According to staff and the consultants, the purpose of the study is to conduct a market assessment, an evaluation of existing venues like Norway Savings Bank Arena and the Ingersoll Turf Facility, and create a strategic plan.
City Manager Peter Crichton, who spearheaded the effort, said the study will help the city “build on opportunities we have now” while hopefully developing new events “that make us a destination.”
Schmieder told the council that many of their clients are mid-sized communities similar to Auburn that end up capitalizing on existing resources to host regional sports tournaments.
What’s next: Schmieder said part of the study will look at staff structure, and possibly having someone dedicated to tourism and sports tourism, as well as improving existing facilities. The consulting group with conduct the study in a number of phases, eventually returning in November with final recommendations.
What happened: During a council workshop, the council discussed a proposed tax increment financing district for Advantage Payroll Services, Inc. of Auburn, which is requesting the TIF in order to make needed upgrades to its offices at 126 Merrow Road.
The company of 144 employees says it has the opportunity to relocate out of state but that local management would like to stay if the upgrades are made. According to staff, the upgrades include a parking lot expansion, HVAC replacements, installation of ADA qualifying restrooms, and efficiency improvements with an estimated cost of nearly $3 million.
What it means: The creation of the TIF would keep 144 employees (and about $5.3 million in annual wages) in Auburn, but the city would lose some tax revenue over the duration of the TIF district.
What’s next: TIF districts require a public hearing and two readings. The council will most likely conduct the public hearing in October.
What happened: The city will give $128,755 directly to taxpayers using city software after a back-and-forth with the School Department over its state subsidy received earlier this year.
What it means: During a previous workshop, city and school officials were at odds over whether the school district needed to withhold $128,755 of its $1.2 million haul in additional state subsidy this year in order to meet state guidelines on “Essential Programs and Services.” The two sides differed, and city staff withheld the funds from its original tax commitment in July.
However, following a letter from state education officials that said Auburn schools already met the criteria, Crichton said he felt confident that the city can now disburse the funding.
“That’s what we expected would be done,” Councilor Leroy Walker said.
What’s next: Most Auburn residents will see a credit of about $2 on their tax bill.
Kennels in agricultural zone
What happened: The council voted to deny the addition of dog kennels as a permitted use in Auburn’s agricultural zone, by a vote of 3-4.
What it means: A proposal to allow dog kennels in the agricultural zone will not move forward. A resident had proposed an overnight boarding business with 12 individual kennels and two grooming stations, as well as two fenced-in pasture areas.
Auburn Planning staff had previously said that licensed dog kennels are a “sensible and reasonable” special exception use in the city’s more rural residential districts, which includes the agricultural zone. The Planning Board had also previously voted 5-2 to recommend the item to the council.