GARDINER — For Gardiner city officials, the blue sign at the corner of Brunswick and Dresden avenues is a badge of accomplishment.

The reward is not the Certified Business-Friendly Community sign; it’s what comes of being a city that’s viewed as a good place to open, relocate or expand a business.

In his comments to celebrate winning the designation Thursday, Mayor Thom Harnett offered his thanks to the members of the city staff who worked to earn the designation, the volunteers who populate the city’s many committees, and organizations such as the Gardiner Board of Trade that have helped city officials with a number of projects.

The reason for all the work is simple, Harnett said.

“We recognize as a City Council that we need to share the tax burden,” he said. “Too much of the tax burden in the state of Maine is placed on homeowners. Property tax is too high in the state; the state has not been living up to its share in terms of revenue sharing.”

Harnett was referring to state government’s failure to pay municipalities their share of tax revenue as required by law, which affects both the level of services municipalities can support and local property tax rates.

“The only thing we can do to lower the tax rate, other than to cut services and streamline operations and becoming more efficient, is to get businesses, like Central Maine Meats, Common Wealth Poultry, and Troiano Waste Services into the (Libby Hill) business park, paying taxes, and that lessens the burden on everything else,” Harnett said.

For Patrick Wright, executive director of Gardiner Main Street and the city’s economic development coordinator, the designation means a disinterested third party has reviewed what the city has done and in some measure endorsed it.

Beyond what city officials have done, he said, it’s about the businesses.

“Without that important private-sector piece, we won’t be successful,” he said.

The designation is granted by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Andrea Smith, development program manager for DECD, said the designation validates the work that municipalities have been doing. In Gardiner’s case, she said, that work includes the planned revitalization of the blighted T.W. Dick properties on Summer Street, the investment city officials are making in the sewer and water infrastructure and the work they have put in to improving downtown Gardiner.

This designation, Smith said, also might weigh in Gardiner’s favor with some Community Development Block Grant applications.

Since 2011, Gardiner city and economic development officials have secured more than $3.6 million in community and economic development grants from the Community Development Block Grant program, which has included funding to reimburse companies such as Common Wealth Poultry and Lost Orchard Brewing for money they have spent on workforce training.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.