Voters in Fairfield and the Oakland Town Council will decide Wednesday whether to approve tax breaks in their respective towns for Kennebec Valley Gas Co.’s proposed natural gas pipeline in central Maine.

The $80 million project would start in Richmond, where the line would connect to Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline constructed between Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. It would travel through Gardiner, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Augusta, Sidney, Oakland, Waterville, Fairfield, Skowhegan and Norridgewock, and end in Madison.

In Fairfield, the special town meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Fairfield Community Center. Voters in Fairfield, rather than the Town Council, will have the final say whether the tax break deal, known as tax increment financing, is approved.

“I encourage everyone to come down and ask questions,” Reny said. “I hope we have a good turnout so the decision that is made is representative.”

The decisions in Fairfield and Oakland come as several of the 12 communities also weigh in. On Saturday, Farmingdale voters rejected the TIF deal at a special town meeting.

Mark Isaacson, one of three principals of the gas firm, said the goal is to deliver natural gas along the route by the 2013 heating season.

Isaacson has said the project hinges on agreements with three anchor tenants — Huhtamaki Packaging in Waterville and Fairfield, Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan and Madison Paper Industries.

Before the gas company can sign contracts with the three critical users, TIFs with participating communities are needed to finance the project, Isaacson has said.

Under the proposed TIF deal being considered in each community, 80 percent of new property taxes the first decade would be returned to the developer and 20 percent would go to the towns. For five years after that, 60 percent would be returned to the developer and 40 percent to the towns.

In Fairfield, per request of the council, the pipeline is proposed to extend past Huhtamaki Packaging and into the downtown area to serve businesses and municipal buildings, Reny said.

With 15 miles of pipeline proposed in Fairfield, Reny said approval of a TIF would mean the town receives $48,000 in new tax revenue annually for the first 10 years and $96,000 annually for five years after that. The new tax money would be applied to the town’s general fund to offset the tax burden, Reny said.

Reny said he believes town councilors are generally supportive of the proposed pipeline, but will not take a formal position on the matter.

In Oakland, the Town Council will vote at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Office.

The council postponed a decision on a TIF deal on Nov. 16 to give residents more time to ask questions about the proposed project.

Town Manager Peter Nielsen said several questions had been asked about the project, including whether the pipeline would be affected by frost and if a line could be extended to First Park.

Nielsen said gas company officials responded that the pipeline, which will be buried 3 feet below ground, would not be adversely impacted by frost and that a line could be extended First Park if businesses there used a certain amount of equivalent oil use.

The main line in Oakland would be about 6.4 miles and would run along Middle Road, Main, Church and Oak streets, as well as Kennedy Memorial Drive and County Road.

If the TIF agreement is approved, for the first decade, Nielsen said Oakland would receive about $20,000 in new revenue per year and then $40,000 annually would be added to Oakland’s coffers for the five years after that.

Councilor Dana Wrigley has said the gas company’s proposal is “the best chance to do economic development we’ve had in years.”

In October, the Augusta City Council approved a TIF agreement and last week the Waterville City Council voted 4-2 on the first of three readings to approve the deal.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]

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