AUGUSTA — A plan to use grant money and city funding to upgrade interior and exterior lighting in seven city buildings and city-owned streetlights on eight streets to more-efficient LED technology is up for council discussion Thursday.

City councilors are also scheduled to discuss two new proposed tax breaks meant to help a local developer save and renovate a prominent Water Street building and a food distributor build a 55,000 square-foot frozen food storage facility.

The proposed lighting upgrade project would cost a total of $426,000, and be paid for with an Efficiency Maine grant of $105,000, an allocation of $200,000 previously set aside in the city’s capital improvement plan for electrical upgrades, and a proposed five-year lease-purchase deal for $121,000 with the lease payments to be repaid from the anticipated energy savings.

The lighting upgrade is projected to save $48,000 a year in electricity costs, with a payback of less than nine years.

“This is part of a multi-year process to become more energy efficient in Augusta that has involved virtually every city public building, including schools,” City Manager William Bridgeo said. “The savings we’d achieve would more than pay for the lease payment and then, in year six (after the lease is paid off), we’d see even more significant savings. Not to mention the impressive carbon footprint reduction.”

City buildings slated to get new LED interior and exterior lighting are Augusta City Center, Augusta Civic Center, the police department, the John Charest Public Works Facility off North Street, Buker Community Center and the Western Avenue and Daryl Parker Wells fire stations.

The project would also replace city-owned streetlights on Water, Bangor, Capitol, Union, Winthrop and Canal streets, and on Memorial Drive and in Cony Village.

Councilors will meet to discuss the plan at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Councilors also are scheduled to discuss two proposed tax increment financing agreements meant to help two major projects in Augusta by returning some of the property tax revenues they would generate to the owners.

Both the proposals are recommended unanimously by a city review committee. Those proposals would be “revenue neutral” for the city because the benefits of the development would be sheltered, so they would not have a negative impact on state revenue sharing and aid to schools, according to Bridgeo and Keith Luke, deputy director of development.

One of the proposed agreements would help local developer Richard Parkhurst bring 275-287 Water Street, the former Farrell’s building, more recently home to the former Gagliano’s restaurant, up to code and renovate it into new retail space on the lower floor and apartments on the upper floors. Parkhurst plans to invest about $1.6 million into the building to create 12 to 14 market-rate apartments on the upper floors. City councilors have expressed informal support for helping the project with a TIF agreement previously.

The proposed 30-year TIF agreement would return 100 percent of the taxes on the increased value of the building for the first five years of the agreement, decrease to 75 percent for years six through eight, 50 percent in years nine through 12, and 25 percent in years 13 through 15, for a total reimbursement to the developer of $320,000.

The city would retain all revenues generated from the development in the final 15 years of the agreement, an estimated $640,000, according to Luke, likely using it to fund future fire station construction and renovation and for firefighter apparatus.

The other proposed TIF to be discussed by councilors would be a 30-year agreement to help Performance FoodService – Northcenter food distributor build a 55,000 square-foot frozen food storage facility, and expand its parking at its Dalton Road warehouse facility.

Company officials said the $15.8 million project is needed because the business, which employs about 355 workers, is out of space at its 140,000 square-foot building.

The proposed TIF would return 100 percent of the taxes paid on the increased value of the property to Performance FoodService in the first three years, 75 percent in years four and five, 50 percent in years six through eight, 40 percent in years nine through 12, and 30 percent in years 13 to 20. The total reimbursement to the company would be $594,000.

The city’s share of revenues would total $1.19 million and, like the other TIF agreements, would provide funds for fire station construction and renovation and firefighting apparatus.

Councilors also are scheduled to discuss whether to authorize a beer tent for Augusta Trails’ Treadfest bicycle race at Bond Brook Recreation Area.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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