RUMFORD — Seeking to stimulate economic growth, selectmen unanimously voted Thursday night to establish three tax-incremented financing districts.

The board also voted 4-0 to seek bids to hire a consultant to complete necessary TIF work for the districts.

Selectman Mark Belanger was absent.

A TIF is a locally-controlled economic development financing program that is funded by property taxes on the development project.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia introduced both topics, saying economic development is now knocking on the town’s door and “we want to get our ducks in a row.”

To retain such investments, the Economic Development Committee recently recommended establishing TIF districts as incentives to grow development.

Areas designated as such districts on Thursday night are:

* the Business Park off Route 108.

* the “Gateway” area on Waldo, Cumberland and Falmouth streets that fronts Route 2 opposite Hannaford.

* and the Route 2 corridor in east Rumford.

“Basically, I feel it’s very crucial that this board acts on it, because everybody’s fighting for businesses and I want Rumford right at the top of the line,” Selectman Jeremy Volkernick said.

Briefing TIF structures, Puiia said, “Some of these are very straightforward, some of them are very complex agreements, and sometimes the reimbursements are based on the investment thresholds.”

“They can also be based on employment and growth,” he said. “You may stipulate having so many jobs created in a TIF district.”

Puiia said Rumford has already invested a lot of money into the Business Park, but it needs more work to make it feasible for developers.

“So that’s an area where you could say the money would be utilized to help develop that park,” he said.

The Gateway area — so called because busy Route 2 traffic heads into it from Mexico — is a tax-acquired area.

Puiia said there is a glut of multifamily buildings in the area that could be purchased and demolished to make room for new development.

He said by sheltering a new taxable value, the majority of the money wouldn’t go to RSU 10 and Oxford County assessments and neither would the town lose state revenue sharing.

“Other communities are doing this, so if we want to sit on our hands and not do anything, that’s what’s going to happen,” Puiia said.

“I personally believe it’s time that we move forward,” Volkernick said.

“Rumford needs to get up with the times. Rumford needs to go forward.”

“Let’s get on with it and stop holding it up before some other town gets it,” he said.

“We cannot listen to the negativity that’s been going on for years. We’ve got good things happening and we don’t want anything lost. We desperately need this.”

He said creating TIF districts is “a way to grow Rumford,” but Selectman Greg Buccina remained unsure about it.

Still, he agreed with the majority to create the districts.

Puiia said the end of May could be the earliest that bids seeking a consultant for TIF work might be returned.

In other business, the board voted 4-0 to revisit the Economic Development, Park and Recreation and Assessor budgets after new information about each came to light this month.

Puiia said he erred when presenting the assessor budget in that he should have recommended a bottom line figure instead of taking items line by line. That, he said, is the Board of Assessors’ job and not his.

He had also recommended raising no money for the Economic Development Account, but with new development prospects looming, the account now needs money, he said.

The other budget involves a misunderstanding, he said, over a contractual agreement with RSU 10 that needs to be remedied in the selectmen’s recommendation.

Selectmen agreed to handle it with a budget hearing at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 5, in Rumford Falls Auditorium.

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