February 11, 2013

Monmouth voters to decide on business-friendly tax incentive plan

Tax break would shelter half the tax collections generated by new Central Maine Power Co. substation, adding about $22 million to the town's valuation and generating about $293,000 in additional property taxes.

BY CRAIG CROSBY Staff Writer

MONMOUTH -- Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to move forward with a tax incentive plan aimed at attracting more businesses into town.

Voting on the selectmen's tax increment financing plan is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Cumston Hall.

The tax break would shelter half the tax collections generated by the new Central Maine Power Co. substation on South Monmouth Road.

The substation will add about $22 million to the town's valuation, generating about $293,000 in additional property taxes each year.

However, an increase in the taxable value of town properties would normally mean Monmouth would receive less money from the state through revenue sharing and for education, and pay more in county taxes and to support schools throughout Regional School Unit 2.

The selectmen's proposal, which the Economic Development Committee drafted, would shelter about half of the substation's property value, or about $11 million, from its taxable property valuation. The maneuver would also allow the town to set aside about $146,000 in property taxes that would be earmarked for specific projects, such as downtown improvements to attract additional businesses and giving new businesses additional tax breaks. Spending is limited to projects outlined in the TIF plan approved by voters and the state.

If voters approve the TIF next month, selectmen will be able to spend money on projects outlined in the proposal without voter approval, though Town Manager Curtis Lunt said the board would hold public hearings. Spending for land and bonding is subject to voter approval.

"The list doesn't mean the town will necessarily do all these projects," said attorney Shoshana Cook Mueller, who helped the town develop the proposal, at last month's public hearing. "These are projects the town can choose from."

As a tradeoff for creating the TIF and limiting how the money can be spent, the effect on state revenue sharing and education funding, as well as the increased county assessment, would total only about $56,000.

Based on current and state funding formulas, without a TIF the average homeowner would see a decrease in property taxes of about $19 for every $100,000 in valuation. With a TIF, that reduction would drop to about $9 per $100,000 in valuation.

Craig Crosby -- 621-5642

ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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