CHINA — Residents will vote at Saturday’s Town Meeting on how to spend money earmarked for economic development, whether to appropriate money to pay emergency responders and whether to adopt proposed changes to the land development code that failed at the November election.

The 56-article warrant proposes a municipal budget of about $2.22 million, not including the money set aside for economic development, which is an increase of $29,000, or 1.32 percent, from last year’s budget. The proposed town budget won’t affect the tax rate, though, because revenue has increased by about $129,000, according to Town Manager Dan L’Heureux.

The town will vote on an amendment to its tax increment finance, or TIF, district, which shields extra tax revenue from upgrades to power lines owned by the Central Maine Power Co. from assessment for county and school taxes. In exchange for capturing the extra money, the town can spend it only on economic development items.

The amendment would do the following: extend the district’s duration from 20 years to its maximum of 30 years, expand the area where the captured funds can be used, include a new substation on Route 3 that would add $60,000 to the fund annually, and allow the town to enter into an agreement with a person or business that would return some of their taxes in exchange for putting their business in China and employing a certain number of people.

The town’s TIF committee, which manages TIF funds, also is proposing a number of ways to spend the money. The committee is asking to spend $69,169 to fund annual budget items, such the town’s payment to the FirstPark business park in Oakland, a donation to the China Regional Lakes Alliance and the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce dues.

It’s also asking to appropriate up to $750,000 for improvements to the Causeway Road, which will be spent over three years, from July 2017 to June 2020. The committee hopes to create more parking areas on the road, which goes across the northern end of China Lake, and upgrade the boat launch. It also hopes to install sheetpile or bulkheads along the shoreline to prevent runoff from seeping into the lake. The $750,000 also includes about $230,000 for a bridge integrity assessment.

The TIF committee proposes using its money for another three items: $20,000 for a controversial Alewife Restoration Initiative; a revolving loan fund program, $25,000; and Thurston Park improvements, $40,000.

The Select Board also is asking the town to approve using $40,000 from the undesignated fund balance, which is maintained for emergencies, to pay emergency responders. The selectmen don’t have a policy in place about how the money would be awarded to firefighters and rescue volunteers, but they have asked that the three fire chiefs and one rescue chief get together to come up with a plan.

The Select Board also is placing a proposed changed land development code before the voters yet again, after it failed at the Nov. 8 ballot.

“It seems to me that we did not do the best job of ‘getting the word out’ on the reasons for the proposed changes,” L’Heureux said in an email. “We hope to refine the approach and to respond to people directly at a town meeting.”

The changes would align the code more closely with updated state standards, replacing shoreland zoning measurements with building footprints and handing timber harvesting in the shoreland zone over to the state. It also would grandfather in signs from a pre-existing ordinance change in June 2010 that restricted signs’ lighting and size.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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