FAIRFIELD — Members of the Kennebec Regional Development Authority approved their annual budget Thursday night, which occurred on the eve of Executive Director Brad Jackson’s final day with the organization.

Jackson’s resignation from the authority — which manages retail space at FirstPark, a business park in Oakland near Interstate 95 — comes at a time of transition for the business park. There have been concerns about the 285-acre park’s ability to attract jobs. While the organization did bring a T-Mobile calling center in 2006 that employs 600 people and invested $17 million to build its FirstPark facility, many of the 25 lots remain unoccupied.

After the meeting, which lasted just over an hour at the Community Center on Water Street, Jackson said he was leaving his position after four years for an opportunity in the private sector. While he said he would be staying in the area, he could not elaborate on what his position was. He said there would be an announcement. He announced his resignation earlier this month, and his final day is Friday.

Jackson said he was proud of his accomplishments with KRDA. He cited bringing in extra money and finding grant funding as some of his major successes since being hired in 2013.

“I got them to think outside the box,” he said.

Jackson was praised by the members in attendance with a round of applause.

Replacing Jackson is still up in the air. After the meeting, KRDA Executive Board President Howard Mette said the board still was working to find a replacement. He said the organization was discussing what exactly the job description of the executive director should be, and once that is finalized, they would conduct a search. While there was no timeline in place, Mette said he hopes the board has a replacement for Jackson by the summer.

“If we have someone by July, that would be a good thing,” he said.

The meeting itself moved by swiftly, with most discussion centered around clarification rather than disagreement. The approved budget, a little under $1 million, is relatively unchanged from past years. Some of that included reallocating $30,000 from a marketing budget into a special-purpose fund. There was a slight increase in taxes, but also a small offset with estimated grant funding.

All told, the $995,000 approved budget contains a $5,000 increase over the past budget.

Members also voted on uncontested officer ballots. Steve Monsulick was elected president; J.J. Jurdak, treasurer; and Peter Mills, secretary. Four executive board candidates were selected as well: Irene Belanger, Dwight Lanning, Tom Munson and Craig Nelson.

The 24 member cities and towns that make up KRDA are Anson, Benton, Canaan, China, Clinton, Cornville, Fairfield, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hartland, Manchester, Norridgewock, Oakland, Palmyra, Pittsfield, Readfield, Rome, St. Albans, Sidney, Smithfield, Solon, Starks, Waterville and Winslow. The authority was established in 1998 when those 24 municipalities in Kennebec and Somerset counties agreed to invest in the park by paying down its initial debt. Those investments were made in exchange for a share of the revenue from the anticipated business development in the park.

However, both revenue to the communities and the number of predicted jobs have not matched the original expectations.

Mills, who was already the authority’s secretary, said the agency collects $587,000 from the participating communities and returns $257,000, which results in a net contribution of $330,000. By November 2020, Mills said, they would make their final bond payment of $257,000. That year they will also make a final $50,000 tax increment financing payment back to T-Mobile, both of which would reduce annual expense. KRDA agreed to a 25 percent credit enhancement TIF when T-Mobile came to FirstPark in 2004, which returns a quarter of T-Mobile’s property taxes to the company each year, with the 15-year agreement set to expire in 2019. Additionally, in 2001 FirstPark was placed into a TIF district, where taxes accruing from new property in the park would go to KRDA.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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