FARMINGDALE — Bringing a tax break request for a proposed natural gas line back before voters after they rejected the deal in December sets a dangerous precedent, a pair of residents told the Board of Selectmen Wednesday.

“If they vote the way they want to vote, you should stick by it,” David Cyr told selectmen. “The only conceivable reason to call for another vote is if the people of Farmingdale, through a petition, request one.”

Cyr, accompanied by resident Bill Crowley, a key organizer against the last vote, berated selectman for their recent decision to put the tax increment financing deal to a referendum on June 22.

The $85 million natural gas line is planned to run through a dozen communities in central Maine, from Richmond to Madison, primarily serving large commercial customers. Officials with Kennebec Valley Gas Co. have requested the tax breaks from all the affected communities to help finance the project.

Richmond selectmen have decided against bringing the matter to voters at the annual Town Meeting and Sidney voters rejected the tax break at a special town meeting Feb. 15.

Cyr, who said he favors a natural gas line but is against granting a company a local tax break, told selectmen that they’re wrong to take on an issue that already has been voted down.

Voters overwhelmingly turned down the tax break by a show of hands at a special town meeting held Dec. 10. Selectmen voted last week to bring the deal, known as tax increment financing, to a referendum vote.

Cyr told selectmen that if the citizens of Farmingdale felt strongly enough about the TIF issue to turn it down, then they should not have their voices taken away by the gas company’s request for a “do-over.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman David Sirois told Cyr and Crowley that he was asked after the town meeting in December to consider bringing the TIF before voters again.

Sirois said selectmen decided to revisit the tax break because several other communities have since approved a TIF, including Gardiner, Hallowell and Augusta, and they want to make sure that Farmingdale residents fully understand the proposal before voting again.

Sirois said a written ballot would be more “fair and more equitable.”

But Crowley told selectmen that “it’s a slap in the face to the people of Farmingdale who went to the meeting on Dec. 10.”

Crowley said he didn’t see the benefit of a natural gas line to the town because there isn’t a lot of development taking place.

Selectmen Doug Ebert pointed out several businesses along Maine Avenue that could easily convert to natural gas if a distribution line were installed. Ebert also said the town would gain revenue from the line if it’s installed, because Kennebec Gas Co. would be required to pay 20 percent of the taxes to the town for the first 10 years and 40 percent to the town five years after that.

Crowley and Cyr, however, contended that the town should not be acting as a bank, by giving a tax break to a for-profit company that stands to profit from the gas line project.

Sirois said selectmen plan to hold several public meetings to educate residents about the TIF request before the June vote.

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