As reported in the December 25, 2020 edition of the Rangeley Highlander, a public hearing was held on December 8, 2020 to provide information and receive input on the Rangeley and Oquossoc TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District and Development Program.  This 30 year program which includes 677.96 acres of the downtown areas of Rangeley and Oquossoc is expected to produce $6.5 million in increased tax revenue.  Up to 100% of this tax revenue can be put into the TIF account and be used to help fund development in the TIF Districts.  The amount of tax money that doesn’t go into the TIF account would be used to fund Town government and would not have to be raised through property taxation.
*TABLE NO.1 in the TIF Development Program lists allowed uses for the TIF tax revenue monies.
At the December 8th public hearing there was discussion that the TIF Development Program did not provide an opportunity for public involvement.  Townspeople were not given a way to vote on which TIF projects move forward or how much of the TIF increased tax revenue remained in the TIF account.  The Town’s TIF attorney, Alyssa Tibbetts and two selectmen thought that a separate TIF Policy could be written to address this issue.
Rangeley Economic Development Consultant, Darryl Sterling assumed the task of writing the TIF Policy and Guidelines.  The second draft of this TIF Policy does not give voters the opportunity to help determine which projects move forward and what amount of the TIF District tax revenue stays in the TIF account.  The policy leaves these decisions to the Board of Selectmen after receiving input from the Economic Opportunity Committee and the Economic Development Consultant.
Development projects in the TIF program will not be fully funded with TIF District account money.  Other tax money will need to be raised to pay the Town’s share of infrastructure improvements, pay for the increased demands on Town services and pay the cost of administering the TIF District Program.
If the tax revenue from new development in the TIF District is not higher than the additional costs of operating the TIF District, general property taxes will have to increase.  Rangeley property taxes will probably increase anyway but in tough years access to some of the TIF District tax revenue may help soften the impact.  Higher taxes increase the task of aging in place for residents on fixed incomes.  Town residents currently have the opportunity to vote on the expenditure of their tax money through warrant articles at the annual Town Meeting.  Some residents think that this voting opportunity should not be omitted from the TIF Policy.
NOTE:  After this article was written, at the February 16, 2021 Selectmens’ meeting,
Darryl Sterling stated that these concerns could be addressed the the next rewrite of the TIF Policy.



Estimated Cost Over

30 Years

(a) Construction of land, improvements, public ways, buildings, and structures for public or commercial use, and equipment for public use within the District, including streetscapes and improvements related to pedestrian and bicycle traffic within the District and other traffic management and safety measures.


(b) Capital costs of improvements made within the District for the demolition, alteration, remodeling, repair or reconstruction of existing buildings, structures and fixtures to enhance and preserve the historic nature of the Downtown and promote commercial uses, as well as costs of site preparation and finishing work, and any fees and expenses related to such improvement, including but not limited to, licensing, permitting expenses, planning, engineering, architectural, testing, legal, accounting expenses, credit enhancement agreements, and TIF Revolving Loan Fund.


(c) Administrative costs, including, but not limited to, reasonable charges for the time spent by municipal employees, assessors, professional services in connection with the implementation of a development program and organizational costs relating to the establishment of the district, including, but not limited to, the costs of conducting environmental impact and other studies and the costs of informing the public about the creation of development districts and the implementation of project plans.


(d) Costs of improvements to roads and infrastructure made outside the District, but directly related to or made necessary by the establishment or operation of the District.


(e) Costs related to construction, alteration or expansion of facilities not located in the District that are required due to improvements or activities within the District.


(f) Funding for Economic Development programs, including funding of the Town’s economic development staff and consultants, Economic Development Department programming and operation, and efforts to market the Town as a business location.


(g) Capital costs associated with new or expanded transit service related to economic development and environmental improvements for commercial use or related to such commercial use within and outside the District, including, but not limited to, bus shelters, transit related structures, benches, signs, parking and other transit-related infrastructure.


(h) Costs associated with new or existing recreational trails that have significant potential to promote economic development within and outside the District.


(i) Funding of environmental improvement and energy efficiency projects related to the activities of the commercial District.


(j) Public safety improvements to include the acquisition of additional equipment or personnel, or improvements to or operations of public safety facilities outside the District as made necessary by the establishment and operation of the District or economic development within the Town.


(k) Costs associated with broadband and fiber optics expansion projects, including preparation, planning, engineering and other related costs in addition to the construction costs of those projects for commercial areas within the Town and residential areas that are unserved as defined by the ConnectME Authority as provided in Title 35-A. Section 9204-A, subsection 1.


Total Project Costs:


Reformatted excerpt of the Rangeley and Oquossoc Villages Omnibus Downtown Tax Increment Financing District Development Program adopted by the BOS on 12/8/20

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