NEWPORT — Around 40 residents, voting Saturday at their Town Meeting, approved creation of a district that would allow the town to use tax savings to fund improvements along Moosehead Trail.

Newport’s tax-increment financing district, if approved by the state, would last 30 years and include the area around Aubuchon Hardware and Sebasticook Valley Credit Union.

The districts are a popular economic development tool. The state allows municipalities to designate a certain area and ask for the Department of Economic and Community Development’s permission to freeze its property valuation. In turn, the town agrees to spend money it saves on state and county taxes on development in that area.

Ron Harriman, an economic development consultant for the town, has overseen the program’s use in Orrington and Hermon, and he said it’s beneficial for towns seeing increasing value from development.

“This would be valuable for Newport with all the money on the books,” he said. “By capturing this value with TIF, you’re keeping all of this value in Newport.”

The Town Meeting warrant article says the town manager is authorized to make revisions to the program, including cost of the TIF project, if he feels it “necessary or convenient.” Resident Ryan Parker, the only one to oppose the TIF program, said he thought the lengthy article gives town officials too much power.

“I don’t vote for something if I don’t completely understand it,” Parker said. “I don’t think the Select Board or the town manager should be allowed to enter into those agreements without the town’s opinion being known.”

All 52 articles on the warrant were passed, with only two received one opposing vote. The approved municipal budget for 2015 was $2,805,138, a nearly 5.5 percent increase from 2014.

Town Manager Jim Ricker said he doesn’t know whether property taxes will increase, since the next school and state budgets aren’t set. He said the largest increase Newport could expect is 0.7 percent.

Ricker attributed most of the increases to energy and personnel costs, but the budget’s largest increase was in road reconstruction. Newport will appropriate $300,000 this year for repaving and maintaining roads, 20 percent more than 2014’s total of $250,000.

Sixty votes were cast during town elections Friday. Selectmen Jack Carson and Kyle Russell were re-elected with 46 votes and 42 votes, respectively. Winn Price, a Regional School Unit 19 board member, was re-elected with 53 votes.

Newport Sanitary District trustees Dennis Dow and Vern Palmer were re-elected with 53 votes and 49 votes respectively, and Rick Jacques was re-elected to his sanitary district position with 57 votes.


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