AUGUSTA — Proposals to borrow $2.4 million for street and sidewalk reconstruction and other capital improvement projects go to city councilors for votes Thursday.

Councilors also are scheduled to discuss, but not vote on, a controversial proposed ordinance that would designate a large swath of the city’s west side as a historic preservation district.

One of Thursday’s planned council votes would send a proposal to borrow just under $1.7 million for street and sidewalk improvements to voters in a November referendum question.

Councilors are scheduled to consider borrowing $750,000 in a council bond, the maximum amount the charter allows to be borrowed without seeking voter approval.

The $1.7 million proposed to be borrowed for street and sidewalk projects would be repaid with proceeds to be collected in taxes from natural gas pipelines and other taxable natural gas infrastructure in the city, to be collected in a tax increment financing, or TIF, account, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

The city established a natural gas TIF in 2011 as competing gas companies Maine Natural Gas and Summit Natural Gas of Maine began installing gas lines in Augusta. However, unlike tax financing programs set up to help lure companies to locate within a municipality, the revenue collected in the gas TIF goes to the city, not back to either of the gas companies.

TIFs allow municipalities to collect property taxes generated by new development and dedicate it to specific uses allowed under state law, including infrastructure, downtown revitalization or economic development projects. By sheltering such money in a TIF, municipalities avoid reduction in state aid to education and other negative tax effects.

Paying back the bonds with TIF proceeds would prevent the need for a tax increase, according to Ralph St. Pierre, finance director and assistant city manager.

“Because of the gas TIF, there would be no impact on the city’s (tax) rate,” St. Pierre said.

Bridgeo said road reconstruction projects that would be funded by the plan next year include the upper part of Patterson Street, Leighton Road from Darrin Drive to Bond Brook, Commercial Street downtown, and Cony Street Extension between Haskell Street and Cony Road in the area of the entrance to Cony High School and the Capital Area Technical Center.

Councilors also are expected to vote on a proposal to borrow $750,000 in a council bond, which doesn’t require voter approval, to provide $100,000 to resurface sidewalks, $225,000 to build a mile-long river walk at Mill Park, $95,000 for improvements to Wade Road, $95,000 to install new palisades at Old Fort Western, and $70,000 for docks for the east side boat landing.

Councilors meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors are also scheduled to:

• discuss a proposed new historic district ordinance, which would require the owners of buildings located within a proposed new district on the west side of Augusta to have some outdoor building renovations reviewed by a new board;

• hear an update from officials of Kennebec Land Trust on their planned acquisition of the Howard Hill property, 164 acres behind the State House in Augusta. The trust plans to purchase the property and transfer ownership of it to the city, for public recreational use. The purchase was jeopardized when $337,500 of the $1.2 million needed for it fell through because Gov. Paul LePage withheld $11.4 million in voter-approved conservation bonds that included funds for the project. Land trust officials announced in August they planned to borrow money to replace the bond funding and move ahead with the purchase;

• hear a presentation in remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks;

• hear a presentation by Fire Chief Roger Audette on plans to commemorate the great fire of 1865, which destroyed much of the city’s downtown; and

• consider creating a new committee to study and make recommendations on childhood hunger and homelessness.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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