CAMDEN, Maine — Select Board members unanimously chose Tuesday to move forward with two tax increment financing proposals to help the town generate more money for infrastructure projects. The TIFs, one in downtown and one on the rest of the Route 1 stretch into Rockport, are designed to keep new taxes in the community.
The downtown proposal estimates that the TIF will keep $1,970,740 in the downtown over the 20-year life of the agreement, as opposed to the estimated $233,467 in taxes the town would keep if the TIF did not exist.
“This is a powerful economic tool,” said Peter Gross, a Camden resident and representative from the town’s TIF work group.
When Camden gains new taxes now, the state’s education subsidy to the town decreases. With a TIF the state’s subsidy will remain stable in the designated TIF area, so when new businesses or homes come to the area the town gains the new taxes without the risk of losing part of its state subsidy.
Under the TIF group’s estimates, if Camden generates the $1.97 million in new taxes downtown it would lose $1.1 million in state education subsidies without a TIF. With a TIF the town would keep the $1.97 million and would lock in the state subsidy.
“We identified the potential in the next five years at about $7 million for potential projects,” said Mathew Eddy, with the Eaton Peabody Consulting Group, which was hired by the town.
In the TIF plans there are designated categories in which to spend the generated money — a sort of wish list for Camden.
“It creates some revenue for purposes in the development plan,” said Town Manager Roberta Smith.
Possible areas to spend money include a parking structure, a new river walk, the salary for an economic development director and more. According to Eddy, such infrastructure investments will help attract more businesses and visitors to Camden.
Select Board member Anita Brosius-Scott supported the measure, but questioned the outlined plans for spending the new taxes. Eddy said the spending plans are flexible and the board can choose to change them annually.
The TIF proposals will be presented to voters at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Feb. 23.