NORRIDGEWOCK — Officials are planning to capitalize on a $350 million natural gas pipeline project to generate more tax revenue for the town while keeping municipal valuations down.

The main line of the natural gas pipeline recently completed by Summit Natural Gas of Maine represents an estimated $12 million in infrastructure improvemenets to Norridgewock. Creation of a TIF district allows the town to realize the tax value of the improvements for muncipal development projects.

“By creating the district, 100 percent of the tax revenue generated by the pipeline will be retained by the town,” said Town Manager Michelle Flewelling. “There really is no downside.”

Residents will have a chance to ask questions and provide feedback on the creation of the district at a public meeting to be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Office.

A TIF district is a finance tool used by many municipalities in Maine that allows the city or town to keep some of the property tax revenue generated by a specific project or projects within a specific area.

“By sheltering the value of the pipeline from the state, the new investments will not have an impact on the town’s share of county taxes, state aid to education or the town’s share of municipal revenue sharing,” Fleming said. “If the district is not created, the town would have to pay higher costs for education and a larger portion of the county tax.”

In Norridgewock, Flewelling said the creation of the district is estimated to being in about $246,000 in additional revenue to the town every year.

A municipality must follow state procedures to establish a TIF district and get approval from the state before it can be established. A public hearing is part of the required procedure.

“That money would be used specifically for economic development projects that we normally would spend tax dollars on,” she said. “It can fund things we would normally have to raise property taxes to pay for.”

One of the goals for revenue raised by the TIF would be to fund the Somerset Explorer bus program, a public transportation line that is operated by the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.

Over the course of the next 30 years, the district is expected to save the town about $4 million in tax costs. As proposed it would consist of about 100 acres of land mainly surrounding some of the town’s largest roads, including Madison Road, Main Street, Skowhegan Road and Mercer Road.

There are plans to build a new bus station to facilitate transportation to Redington-Fairview General Hospital if the TIF district is approved, according to the outline for the development program.

In 2012, residents voted to approve the creation of a TIF district surrounding a proposed pipeline to be built by Kennebec Valley Natural Gas. However, the project was awarded to Summit Natural Gas before the district received final approval from the state.

Residents will also be asked to approve the creation of the TIF district at a referendum to be held Tuesday.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368 | [email protected]

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