The town of Chelsea will be able to use a tax revenue windfall from natural gas pipelines for economic development efforts, including rebuilding roads damaged by pipeline construction and trying to attract new businesses, if residents approve a tax increment financing district at a special town meeting Wednesday.

The estimated $6.9 million value of the natural gas pipeline, which is expected to generate $2.5 million in new tax revenue over the next 30 years, would also be shielded from the valuation of the town by the state, meaning it wouldn’t have a negative impact on the amount the town gets in state aid, the amount of taxes the town pays the county or the town’s contribution to the school district.

The special town meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Chelsea Elementary School gymnasium. The Board of Selectmen held a public hearing on the issue last week.

Town Manager Scott Tilton is encouraging residents to attend because there must be a minimum of 25 registered Chelsea voters to establish the TIF district.

The 6.5 miles of natural gas pipeline installed by Maine Natural Gas Co. and Summit Natural Gas of Maine is expected to generate about $118,680 in additional tax revenue the first year.

If the town doesn’t approve the tax district, the new revenue from the pipeline installed over the last two years would still be collected by the town, but it would go to the general fund. The town also wouldn’t benefit from shielding the new value from the state. If the pipeline increased the overall valuation of the town, the town would receive less in funding from the state for education and municipal revenue sharing.

Besides repairing and replacing roads damaged by the pipeline installation, the fund would be used for the implementation of an economic development program, the development of recreation trails and about 10 other economic development projects, according to a draft document of the plan.

The plan also calls for the TIF fund to cover 50 percent of the cost of a new tanker truck for the fire department.

Tilton said some residents at the public hearing Wednesday expressed interest in amending the district in the future to allow some of the money raised to go to developing some kind of business park in town. He said people were interested in the town purchasing land for an industrial or technology business park, but he doesn’t know of any specific businesses that would be interested in locating in Chelsea if there was a business park.

“I think there’s some hope that businesses will come,” Tilton said.

The dozen economic development projects that could be funded by the TIF funds won’t be happening for two years or more if residents approve the district, Tilton said. The selectmen will set priorities for which projects to do first, he said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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