RUMFORD — A special town meeting to vote on an extension to the Industrial Park Municipal Development and Tax Increment Financing Development Program will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Rumford Falls Auditorium at the Town Hall.

Town Manager Stacy Carter said Rumford Power has requested an extension to its TIF, which expires in March. The TIF was approved in 1997.

The gas-fired plant generates electricity for the regional power grid through an interconnection with Central Maine Power Co.

By law, a TIF can go for 30 years so Cogentrix Energy Management has requested an extension for the remaining years allowed.

The Rumford Power plant has requested an extension of its tax increment financing agreement for another six years. A town meeting is set for Wednesday to vote on the request. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

Carter said acceptance will continue substantial economic benefits for the town and its residents. This includes employment, broadened and improved tax base and economic stimulus.

Rumford Power Inc. has paid $13.4 million in taxes since its operation and and would pay $7.2 million over the next six years if the extension is approved.

At a recent public hearing via Zoom,  Carter told selectmen that since its operation, Rumford Power’s payments included a 3% increase annually. The taxes started at $500,000. This year, the tax commitment is $876,751.

“We had a lot of discussion over the last few months about the needs of the town and what’s in the best interest of the town,” he said, adding that the Rumford Power plant is being assessed at its original valuation of $113.8 million.

“Knowing that the TIF was going to expire, we had asked the person that does the industrial evaluations to take a look at it, so that we could get a sense of where they’re at 20 years later,” Carter said. “And the best estimate was at $75 million. One of the things to understand with the power plant is that they create income by being on stand-by to operate.

“And we do know that the payments that they receive are projected out over the next two or three years, and they continue to go down, which, in an evaluation model, based on depreciation of equipment, and their costs going up, we suspect that their valuation will continue to decline,” he said.

Carter said he believes this agreement to be in the best interest of not only the town, but in the best interest of Cogentrix, “that they know what their tax commitment is for the next six years, and they can plan as they need to stay viable and stay running. And we know we’re going to collect more than we previously have been, and have an agreement for the next six years. So we kind of lose that uncertainty of whether or not they’re going to continue to operate.”

Walter Cassidy of Cogentrix Energy said this agreement would serve as a benefit to the town “while providing some certainty around our future expenses. I think it’s a win-win opportunity for both the town and the power plant.”

Carter said that beyond the 3% increase over the six years, the extension would also provide the town with an additional $1,358,680, “which we hope to put toward the new fire station project. That money would be set into a fund until we are able to move forward with that program.”

He said, “We know that this is not going to pay the total cost of a fire station, but it sets us up that we’re able to make bond payments for many years and get that project going.”

A public hearing for the fire station project will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 25. It has not been determined whether it will be an in-person meeting or conducted over Zoom.

Board Chairman Chris Brennick earlier suggested holding a public hearing to explain why the current fire station is no longer sustainable, and then gather input about what residents want to see.

Carter said Fire Chief Chris Reed indicated his needs for the new facility includes five bays to put the apparatus in, storage for all the other equipment, office space and sleeping quarters.

On April 1, the board will sign the warrant for the June ballot, which will include asking for approval to purchase land for the fire station.

Selectman Eric McLean asked what would happen to the $1.3 million if voters reject the fire station project.

Carter said the Select Board would have to make that determination.

The second meeting for ordinance requests or Rumford Charter amendments, originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, will convene after the special town meeting.

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