WATERVILLE — City councilors voted 6-1 Tuesday to approve a tax increment financing district and related development program for a proposed natural gas pipeline.

The tax break, or TIF, allows Kennebec Valley Gas Co. to include Waterville in its plan to build an $86 million pipeline from Richmond to Madison.

Council Chairman Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, voted against the plan.

As part of the vote, councilors approved a proposal by Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 4, to extend the TIF term from 15 to 30 years for the city. The term for the gas company would still be 15 years, as initially proposed for both the city and gas company.

As part of the plan, 80 percent of property tax revenue for the first 10 years of the pipeline’s use would go to the developer and 20 percent to the city; for the next five years, 60 percent would go to the developer and 40 percent to the city.

Also as part of Thomas’ recommendation, TIF revenues will go into a dedicated TIF account instead of into the general fund and will be used for economic development-related activities in and out of the district. The TIF would start in 2014.

Thomas argued that if the city does not shelter the value for 30 years, it would lose $675,000 in revenues.

But Councilor John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, said extending it to 30 years would restrict the city’s capacity to use the money as it chooses in the future.

“I just don’t think we have enough free cash to be locking that cash down the road, so I would oppose the extension,” he said.

The state Department of Economic and Community Development must approve the city’s TIF district and related development program.

The pipeline would run on the western edge of the city. It would run down Kennedy Memorial Drive to Silver Street, go through the downtown and up College Avenue.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors voted 7-0 to authorize the transfer of an off-track betting license for Pioneer Gaming, LLC, doing business as Favorites. Pioneer Gaming wants to move its off-track betting parlor from its home in the basement of the former John Martin’s Manor on College Avenue to 6 Jefferson St., the site of T&B Outback Tavern.

Pioneer Gaming owner Don Barberino said the business will occupy 1,200 square feet of the Jefferson Street building.

He said the Maine State Harness Racing Commission on March 28 will consider approving the move.

“Hopefully, we’ll be open mid-April,” he said.

Mayor Karen Heck read a proclamation expressing appreciation to fire Lt. Shawn Esler and rescue technician Eion Pelletier for saving two people from carbon monoxide poisoning recently at JFK Plaza. Pelletier and Esler received a standing ovation.

Heck also invited residents to the Waterville Public Library from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, where she and City Manager Michael Roy will host an informational session on the city budget.

Councilors voted to:

* Transfer up to $139,000 from the Downtown TIF Reserve account for road improvement work on Temple and Chaplin streets, as well as on Colby Circle.

* Rezone four parcels owned by Thomas College off West River Road. The council also voted to discontinue part of Eaglewood Drive, a city street, with the understanding that the college will plow, sand, maintain and keep in good repair the remaining 213 feet of the drive owned by the city.

* Appoint Garth Collins code enforcement officer, building official, local plumbing inspector and health officer, with a term to expire March 6, 2015.

* Award a $24,290 contract to electrician Ronald P. Cote of Gardiner to replace and upgrade the lighting system at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport.

* Accept the following Homeland Security Grants: $25,000 to be used to buy a generator for the police department; $54,295 for communications technology and equipment for police; $9,909 to buy a backup base radio and repeater for the fire department; and $332,500 to help buy a fire engine.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]


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