The Lockwood Hotel, left, and the Colby Arts Collaborative, center back, and Silver Street Tavern, right, on Main Street in Waterville. The city will be moving some buildings to a new downtown tax increment financing district in order to increase the long-term economic benefit to the community. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to create a tax increment financing district for three buildings downtown with the TIF expected to generate about $900,000 in tax revenues annually that the city can use to further economic activity in the city.

The three buildings are owned by Colby College, but it is not a Colby TIF and Colby does not benefit from it.

“We can use that money for economic development, including infrastructure improvements or construction — roads, sidewalks, street lighting, directional signage — all of the kinds of things you’d associate with the transportation system,” City Manager Steve Daly said Wednesday.

The funds may also be used for investment in economic development efforts such as those the city works on with the Central Maine Growth Council, and those projects are not restricted to within the physical boundaries of the TIF district, according to Daly.

“The revenue generated by a TIF is only the new tax revenue beyond the baseline value as of the previous tax year,” he said. “The baseline value is of those buildings or lots on April 1, 2020.”

The properties to be placed in the new TIF are at 93 Main St., the site of the future Paul J. Schupf Art Center; 9 Main St., site of the Lockwood Hotel; and 20 Main St., the former Waterville Hardware property and future Arts Collaborative.

On Tuesday, City Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, was the lone dissenter on the creation of the new TIF district, saying he wasn’t persuaded by the financial argument.

“I’m not opposed to TIFs, but I don’t think this one, as written, will get my support,” he said.

Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, said that the three properties were already in a separate downtown TIF district and the advantage of putting them in a new one is that the city gets a 30-year term as opposed to the 15-year term it gets if it left the buildings in the current downtown TIF district. The state gave municipalities the TIF tool to help maximize the revenue the city generates from its taxable property, Thomas said. Revenues generated from investments downtown can be invested in other parts of the city for important projects such as road and sidewalk improvements, he said.

“Why would we give up funds when we don’t have to?” he said.

In other business, councilors voted 7-0 to  establish a city manager evaluation committee to include Thomas and councilors Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, and Thomas Klepach, Ward 3.

They also voted 7-0 to support an “extended producer responsibility for packaging” resolution after Thomas offered an amendment to change the language in the resolution to say the city supports the concept of a packaging law and encourages legislators to continue working to develop a policy.

Chrissy Adamowicz, Natural Resources Council of Maine’s Sustainable Maine outreach coordinator, explained that municipal recycling programs struggle to stay afloat and there is an effort worldwide to make them sustainable. The resolution supports the idea of requiring packaging manufacturers to pay a fee into a fund that would be distributed to municipalities, reimbursing them for recycling and trash. That, she said, would incentivize reduced waste and recycling. The resolution is nonbinding, according to Adamowicz.

“Supporting the concept is really what we’re encouraging towns to do,” she said.


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