Millinocket tax deal with would-be mills buyer delayed

Posted Sept. 07, 2011, at 11:17 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town leaders will meet on Tuesday to consider a possible tax-increment financing deal with the would-be buyer of the region’s two paper mills, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said Wednesday.

Town Council Chairman John Davis opted to cancel the meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, at which the council was to discuss a TIF deal and a property tax package with Cate Street Capital, after it became clear that the town’s attorneys couldn’t provide the TIF documentation in time for the meeting, Conlogue said.

“There is now too little time to review it properly,” Conlogue said Wednesday in an email to the council.

Officials in East Millinocket and Millinocket say they are working hard to make final the many details in TIF and property tax agreements.

A tax incentive program for economic development available to all Maine local governments, a TIF permits a municipality to use some or all of the new property taxes that result from an investment project within a designated district to assist in that project’s expenses and also generate economic development funds for the municipality.

Gov. Paul LePage’s office announced on Aug. 30 that Cate Street had signed an asset purchase agreement for the mills for an undisclosed price. The closure of the deal could come as early as mid-September, state officials said.

State officials are hopeful that as many as 500 workers eventually could be employed in East Millinocket and Millinocket. As many as 200 East Millinocket papermakers could return to work as early as mid-October. Market conditions and the Millinocket mill’s state of readiness will determine when that mill might restart, officials said.

Mark Scally, chairman of East Millinocket’s Board of Selectmen, has said that leaders there are working to set a tentative tax agreement with Cate Street.

Cate Street officials said they have until early October to meet several conditions for the deal to proceed. They and state economic development officials have warned that meeting the many conditions, which include tax deals and union contracts, would be challenging and call for sacrifices.

The Town Council’s meeting is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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