May 27, 2018
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Houlton voters to decide $1.6 million sewer, water project on June 12

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

HOULTON, Maine — Residents will go the polls next week to decide whether they want to spend a substantial amount of money to extend water and sewer service on a section of U.S. Route 1 known as the North Road.

Town Councilors agreed to send the matter forward in April, with voting taking place on June 12.

Voters will be asked if they want to spend $1.6 million in tax increment funding to extend water and sewer lines on the roadway, which was designated a few years ago as a tax increment financing development district, or TIF.

Tagged as an economic development device, TIF aims to enhance and entice investment in a specific portion of a town. Establishment of TIF zones helps stimulate economic development, guard or create jobs and encourage investment to bolster business growth. The proceeds from such activity can be used for development projects.

North Road has blossomed over the past decade into the town’s major economic corridor, and business owners in the area came before the council a number of times asking them to extend water and sewer services for their benefit. The town saw a need, but did not have the money to do it until they designated North Road as a TIF district and forged an agreement with the Houlton Water Co. that began the extension process in 2011.

Last year, the Houlton Water Co. expanded sewer and water service up to 331 North St. using some of the TIF district funds for the $425,000 project.

If voters approve the next phase on June 12, the expansion will bring services from Tractor Supply Co. to just south of the Currier Road.

Councilor Walter Goodrich said he supported the plan, as using TIF funds would extend services with no cost to taxpayers and without a rate increase to Houlton Water Co. customers.

Jon McLaughlin, executive director of the Southern Aroostook Development Corp., also asked voters to support the project during a council meeting on Monday evening. He said that it would create jobs while helping to attract businesses, since potential business owners would have town water and sewer services.

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