WATERVILLE — The public will have a chance Tuesday to ask questions and comment on a proposed change to a tax increment financing district and related development plan for the Lockwood Mills housing project.

The Waterville City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 6:45 p.m. and consider taking a first of two votes on the TIF plans at the regular council meeting following the hearing. The meeting will be accessible via a link on the city’s website.

North Country Co. owns the Lockwood Mill complex on Water Street, which includes the Hathaway Creative Center to the south, the former Central Maine Power Co. adjacent to it, and the former Marden’s Industrial building at the north end of the complex, next to Ticonic Bridge. Plans call for redeveloping that building with about 65 residential units, including at least 40 affordable units and more than 20 available at market rate. Hathaway has 67 high end apartments which are typically occupied.

A TIF is in place for the former Marden’s and CMP buildings, but North Country wants to change the TIF to move 21 proposed housing units out of the CMP building and into the Marden’s building, according to City Manager Steve Daly.

“The way TIFs are configured, they have to redraw the bottom line in the Marden’s building in order to fit in those 21 units,” Daly said Monday. “They would take CMP out of the housing TIF and put it into the economic development TIF which the Hathaway building is in. They’re doing this for financing reasons so that they can get work underway and put all the housing into the old Marden’s building.”

The timeline is short and the tax adjustments would help get financing going so North River can start the housing project in the fall, Daly said. A public hearing is required before changes can be made in the plan, according to Daly.

“It’s a really straight-forward proposition,” he said. “It’s not going to change anything with respect to TIF revenue coming from the project.”

Tax increment financing is a program that allows cities and towns to shield new value from development from tax calculations to preserve the amount of state aid for education and revenue sharing they receive from state government and county tax assessments, saving residents some money.

In other matters Tuesday, the council is scheduled to consider funding certain community service organizations that the city funded a few years ago but stopped doing so. Funding would include $10,000 for the Alfond Youth & Community Center, $15,000 for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program and $43,500 for Central Maine Growth Council, in addition to $100,000 for the Growth Council for a three-year period, to facilitate the hiring of a staff person who would be dedicated to economic development in Waterville.

Daly said the council is of the mind that investing dollars in the organizations multiplies the return on investment in support of community services such as the Flying Eagle KVCAP bus service and the Alfond Center’s work with underprivileged children. Rather than add another city employee, it makes more sense to help fund the position for the Growth Council, which has economic development expertise, according to city officials.

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