May 20, 2018
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Washington County approves first TIF projects

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — The first three projects resulting from a landmark tax increment financing district were approved Thursday by the Washington County commissioners.

They include two feasibility and impact studies and assistance to purchase a lodge.

The UPC Wind Power Project on Stetson Mountain in northern Washington County became the first TIF project in Maine’s Unorganized Territory last year, and income to the county from the TIF — expected at more than $450,000 annually — was funneled into a special grant fund. The fund is overseen by the county manager, Unorganized Territory Manager Dean Preston and members of the Sunrise County Economic Council.

Entrepreneurs planning projects in the Unorganized Territory in Washington County were urged to apply.

Five applications were received over the last few months and, according to County Manager Betsy Fitzgerald, three were approved by the committee. Those approvals were ratified by the commissioners Thursday afternoon.

The remaining two applicants were advised to gather more information and reapply, Fitzgerald said.

The projects approved and the grant amounts were:

• $10,000 for the Forest Society of Maine, which is the fiscal agent for the Stetson Mountain Fund Committee, to study the Baskahegan watershed in Unorganized Territory around Danforth. Two summer jobs are expected to be created, and the project has an overall budget of $25,000. The project will result in recreational use recommendations, including interactive maps and an inventory of resource conditions and recreational opportunities.

• $15,000 toward the purchase of the Wilderness Lodge in Township 24 by Matt and Lisa Whitegiver of Eagle Mountain Guide Service. The overall purchase is $85,000, and at least 2.5 jobs will be created. The service guides for fishing, bear, deer, moose, birds and rabbits. The company plans to expand into ATV accommodations and water sports on the Machias River.

• $10,000 to Dr. Normand Laberge of Tidewalker Engineering of Trescott for a feasibility study and regulatory analysis for tidal power development in Carryingplace Cove. Two jobs should be retained, and the entire project has a $45,000 budget.

In other business, the commissioners approved changing the county’s payday to Tuesdays, effective in July; scheduled several tax abatement hearings for July; approved the new operating procedures for the Washington County Regional Communications Center; and were updated on several locations within the Unorganized Territory where ATVs will be allowed to travel on county roads to connect to either another trail or a local eatery.

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