WATERVILLE — The city is seeking to extend its downtown tax increment financing district term from 20 to 30 years because of all the development expected as part of downtown revitalization.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to authorize City Manager Michael Roy to submit documentation to the state Department of Economic and Community Development proposing that the TIF be extended.

According to the resolution councilors approved Tuesday, the downtown TIF was adopted in 2005 for a 20-year term. With prospects for growth downtown, city officials expect developers and investors to request tax breaks. With the current arrangement, the city would be able to offer only a nine-year reimbursement schedule to developers; but with the extension, it could offer a 19-year reimbursement schedule.

As part of a TIF, a property owner pays taxes and the city reimburses part of those taxes at a rate negotiated between the two parties.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Council Chairman John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, asked why it is a priority now to extend the TIF district.

Roy said he expects investors to come forward asking for TIF reimbursements, and the nine years left on the TIF will decrease as time goes on. Mayor Nick Isgro said developers need to know now about possible TIFs so they can get started on projects.

Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, said there is a lot of interest from investors in the downtown and the prospect of development is real.

“As a municipality, I think it’s in our best interest to do this,” Mayhew said of extending the TIF.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors heard from Fred Stubbert, a former city councilor and current chairman of the city’s municipal solid waste committee, which spent about a year looking at alternatives to the city sending waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. The city’s contract with PERC, in Orrington, expires in March 2018. Councilors O’Donnell, Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, and Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, are on the committee, as are others, including former mayor and council chairman Dana Sennett, Nick Champagne, Stu Silverstein and Todd Martin. Roy, Public Works Director Mark Turner and City Clerk Patti Dubois are nonvoting members.

Stubbert said the committee looked at the economics, timing and risk of deciding to send the city’s waste to Fiberight, which plans to build a waste-to-energy plant in Hampden, and decided unanimously to recommend the city not do that. He said that does not mean that sometime in the future the city would not decide to go with that company, he said.

Martin, who works for the Natural Resources Council of Maine but said he was at the meeting as a Waterville resident, said the Fiberight proposal still has state Department of Environmental Protection applications that have been submitted but not yet approved. He also said it is doubtful Fiberight will get the tonnage of trash it needs to break ground. The project needs 150,000 tons of trash a year to operate and has commitments for about 78,000, officials said earlier this week.

“I agree with the recommendation of the commission that we would be taking a financial risk to sign on with Fiberight at this time,” Martin said.

Meanwhile, O’Donnell said the city’s contract with Ecomaine, which accepts the city’s recyclables, will expire in June 2017, and it is likely the cost would increase.

Roy said both that contract and the city’s contract with Sullivan’s Disposal, which picks up recyclables curbside, expire at the end of June 2017; so in the next 12 months, the city must decide how it will proceed.

Stubbert said the solid waste committee could continue to meet and discuss and encourage composting of organics.

“Pulling that out of the waste stream could be very, very important,” he said.

Martin said about 30 percent of trash is organics and a lot of communities around the state and country are working to get it out of the waste stream. He and others would like to see a company pick up organics curbside, he said.

While councilors did not vote to reject Fiberight, Roy said City Solicitor Bill Lee recommends the council take a formal vote. The council will do so at its next meeting May 17, he said. The Municipal Review Committee, which represents the communities that send their trash to PERC and is a partner in the Fiberight plan, has asked communities that are signing on to commit by June 30.

Isgro thanked the members of the solid waste committee for their work. “You didn’t get paid for it, but the city is going to get paid back,” he said.

Bushee said how trash is handled is one of the biggest ways the city can save money in its budget, and officials are trying to keep costs down.

“It’s this committee that’s really helping us to do that,” she said.

In an unrelated matter, Roy noted that a public meeting of the traffic study committee will be held at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chamber. The committee, which is looking at traffic and parking issues as part of downtown revitalization plans, will discuss information members have gathered on traffic volumes, pedestrian and bicycle issues, high-volume accident sites, a parking survey and other issues.

“That meeting is an important one. It’s not the last one,” Roy said.

Councilors approved food and liquor licenses for a new business, Pizza Degree, at 10 Waterville Commons Drive, as well as a secondhand license to Jeremy Lizzotte, owner of You Broke It, a repair shop for small electronics at 5 Concourse East.

The council also took a final vote to rezone 319 Main St. from Commercial-C to Commercial-A to allow owner Bill Mitchell to develop apartments in a barn attached to the main building on the property.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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