FARMINGTON — On Tuesday, Sept. 26, selectmen approved expenditures of $23,000 from the Downtown TIF [Tax Increment Financing] for banners and plan amendments.

The Downtown Municipal Tax Increment Financing District and Downtown Omnibus Development Program was implemented in 2013, according to information provided to the Select Board. These funds have been successful in making many capital improvements in the town including the Church Street parking lot; installing cameras in the downtown; and constructing parking/sidewalk/lighting on Bridge Street, Front Street, and High Street, the memo noted.

Byron “Buzz” Davis, the Downtown TIF Committee chair, said selectmen last year had committed $200,000 from the TIF for the Sandy River Bridge project. The TIF currently has a balance of $190,000, another $10,000 is needed to fund that, he stated.

Davis requested $23,000 be approved for two more projects: downtown decorations for the holiday season and amending the Downtown TIF plan.

The proposed banners would promote shopping locally, drive Christmas and holiday shopping to downtown businesses, Davis said. There will be a star design, the banners can be used year after year, he noted.

“Phil Hutchins at Public Works has already budgeted $3,000 towards decorations for the downtown,” Davis said. “What we want to do costs $16,000 so we are asking to use $13,000 from TIF funds. We would like to do that this year.


“The Downtown TIF Development [Program] Plan itself is 10 years old. There are a couple of other projects we would like to pursue, but we are unable to.”

The plan is limited in scope of allowable projects, focuses right around the downtown blocks, Davis noted. “There are opportunities for economic development, potential for growth of the hospitality industry and related services associated with the Sandy River Bridge project … that could make the town more attractive,” he stated.

Developing natural features in the downtown, extending trail connections, other projects to promote town growth are some possibilities, he said. They could also make the area more attractive for students to come to University of Maine Farmington, he stated.

“What we would like to do is expand and review the plan by going back to the firm [Eaton Peabody] that originally wrote the plan five years ago,” Davis noted. “We have been in touch with them. They estimated the cost at about $5,000. We think that is a little low, are asking for $10,000, which is allowed within that program.

“I mentioned recreational amenities. We want to also add such things as matching grant funding within the TIF, allowable costs.”

Davis said there is a need for that now. He spoke of Bonney Woods Corporation needing a $10,000 local match for a grant being sought for its recreational trails. About $4,000 to $5,000 of that has been raised, is a project the TIF would like to support but can’t the way the plan is written now, he noted. Amending the plan could also add town office improvements, he stated.


Selectman Joshua Bell, who is on the Downtown TIF Committee, suggested the company could also look at the comprehensive plan for the downtown.

The decorative banners for Main Street and Broadway are high quality, professional, Bell noted.

They add a lot, Chair Matthew Smith said.

Selectman Dennis O’Neil asked how long it would take to amend the plan.

The hope is to have it ready for voters to act on at the annual town meeting, Davis replied.

The Sandy River Bridge project will possibly start next year, Bell said.

In the last two years, $150,000 to $173,000 was approved for the Downtown TIF account, Davis noted. Money in the account now could be used for these two projects, bridge project funds could be expended after more money is put in the account this year, he stated.

Selectman Byron Staples noted at least $150,000, maybe more could be added to the account when the tax commitment is finalized.

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