NORRIDGEWOCK — The town has established a committee to develop recommendations on how best to use about $160,000 coming in from its tax increment financing district.

Town Manager Richard LaBelle said the town is seeking applicants for a seven-person committee made up of at least five residents and no more than two nonresident business owners to recommend future TIF expenditures to the Board of Selectmen. A TIF district allows towns to capture revenue from the tax value of the improvements for various municipal development projects, and Norridgewock’s TIF is centered around the Summit Natural Gas pipeline.

“In 2015 it was approved we would spend $280,000 for the fire station on upper Main Street,” LaBelle said, but he added that there hasn’t been a “targeted focus” for the TIF funds since then.

That’s why the Board of Selectmen approved the creation of the TIF Advisory Committee. LaBelle said officials hope to have the committee fully staffed by Town Meeting on March 6, and he is optimistic that will happen. The goal of the committee, he said, is to look into all expenditure options and “get the biggest bang for our buck.”

“We’re just looking for a little more interest in involvement,” LaBelle said, adding that the aim is also to make sure TIF funding “benefits everybody, not just a few.”

LaBelle said there are “a lot of options out there” for TIF projects, ranging from downtown revitalization efforts or seeking out loans and grants. He said he would like to see more “really substantial” work done to make downtown “more aesthetically pleasing,” which could include things such as building facade improvements.

“There’s still a lot of work that can be done,” he said.

The TIF brings in about $160,000 in value annually, LaBelle said, and largely has been used in regional investments such as the fire station.

LaBelle said there hasn’t been a lot of formal interest from potential applicants, but he said that might just be the “seasonality of it.” He said there had been some applications that came in and the Board of Selectmen began reviewing them. He said he doesn’t see a problem with getting the committee fully staffed by the time Town Meeting takes place.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and will be appointed by the Board of Selectmen to a three-year term. According to a guideline document for the committee, the committee’s goals include attracting new businesses compatible with the town’s Comprehensive Plan; fostering reconstruction and/or renovation of blighted, underutilized or vacant properties; supporting construction of businesses; and supporting desirable projects that are financially feasible.

“I think it will be important, as we head into the Town Meeting, that we have committee set and dedicated to the cause,” he said.

In other business, the town also has been working to revise its Cemetery Ordinance in an effort to resolve past disputes over family lot lines and to improve its record keeping over cemetery plots.

LaBelle said the current ordinance is 15 years old, and he suggested it be reviewed and updated as a way to resolve a problem involving the remains of one family having been buried on the plots of another. The new ordinance, now in its 12th iteration, calls for the creation of a cemetery sexton to oversee the operations of all 10 of the cemeteries the town oversees, as well as a cemetery superintendent to oversee cemetery management. LaBelle, who probably will be appointed as cemetery superintendent, said these are positions the town has not had in the past.

The problem began a handful of years ago when the town discovered a Sunset View Cemetery burial plot had been sold improperly a number of times. A mistake in record keeping allowed the plot, owned by the Bishop family, to be sold more than once. While the lot was not full, LaBelle said it was important to solve the problem, and he said both families were willing to work with the town toward a resolution.

“I think that it will help the town in terms of better cemetery management,” LaBelle said, as well as ensuring better record keeping in the future and keeping plot owners satisfied.

LaBelle said there is only one cemetery with lots for sale right now. The town manages a number of smaller plots where veterans are buried, which all towns are required to do by the state.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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.

filed under: