AUGUSTA — City councilors on Thursday are expected to consider authorizing spending about $2.8 million to buy a new ambulance and new firetruck, make improvements to city streets and sidewalks, put a new roof on the police station, repair the downtown parking garage, make improvements to the lecture hall at City Center and buy playground equipment for McCall’s Park.

Councilors can authorize bonding up to $750,000 for capital improvements themselves, while borrowing beyond that amount also would require approval from residents in a November referendum.

Councilors meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the council chamber at Augusta City Center. Proposed expenditures going to councilors for authorization Thursday include $675,000 for a new firetruck, to replace a 1994 truck; and $195,000 to buy a new ambulance, to replace a 2010 ambulance.

They also would include $1.1 million for paving and improvements to city streets and sidewalks, $68,000 to replace the roof at the Police Department; $100,000 for repairs to a deck and doors at the downtown parking garage; $135,000 to upgrade the seating, flooring and sound system of the lecture hall on the first floor of Augusta City Center; and $80,000 for a new play structure at McCall’s Park playground off Eastern Avenue.

Much of the money proposed to be borrowed would be repaid using proceeds in taxes from natural gas pipelines and other taxable natural gas infrastructure in the city, collected in the city’s natural gas tax increment financing, or TIF, account, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

The city established a natural gas TIF in 2011 as competing gas companies Maine Natural Gas and Summit Natural Gas of Maine began installing gas lines in Augusta. However, unlike tax financing programs set up to help lure companies to locate within a municipality, the revenue collected in the gas TIF goes to the city, not back to either of the gas companies.

TIFs allow municipalities to collect property taxes generated by new development and dedicate it to specific uses allowed under state law, including infrastructure, downtown revitalization or economic development projects. By sheltering such money in a TIF, municipalities avoid reduction in state aid to education and other negative tax effects.

Councilors also are scheduled to issue proclamations Thursday recognizing the Calumet Educational and Literary Foundation for awarding scholarships and grants to area students to help them go on to higher education, that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and that the week of Sept. 17 is United States Constitution week. They’ll also consider authorizing the Police Department to accept the transfer of $3,677 forfeited in a criminal case.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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