HALLOWELL — The state has approved a tax increment financing district that will allow the city to shelter tax money to improve its downtown over the next 30 years.

City Manager Michael Starn told city councilors last week that the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development approved its district, which it began preparing plans for last year.

The district takes effect in July, but the benefits are long-term.

Maine rules allow cities and towns to designate an area for tax increment financing, then apply for permission to freeze its property valuation that is used to calculate public school spending and county taxes for a maximum period of 30 years. The money it saves must go toward bolstering development in that area.

Hallowell’s district area is a 170-acre swath comprised of land in the city’s core downtown along Water Street stretching from near Greenville Street on the south side of town to the Augusta line in the north.

The state-owned Stevens School complex, a 14-building, 63.5-acre property that is mostly vacant, is also included in the district. That’s a sign of the city’s hope that a developer will buy and improve that property.

The district encompasses less than 5 percent of the city’s acreage, but more than 13 percent, or $32 million, of the city’s $240 million total valuation, Starn said last year.

In December, a state spokesman said 24 other cities and towns had downtown districts. Farmington, Augusta and Richmond are among them.

Hallowell has floated a number of potential uses for the money, including street lights, permanent public restrooms or sidewalk extensions.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme


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