Monson discovers more funds available in TIF account

Posted Oct. 24, 2012, at 2:07 p.m.

MONSON, Maine — A tax increment financing, or TIF, account set up in 2007 for subsidizing redevelopment, infrastructure and other community-improvement projects for the newly reconstituted Moosehead Furniture plant has a higher than expected balance of $23,000.

Town officials thought the current fund balance was $6,000, but it is $23,000 due to additional tax contributions made by the two subsequent owners of the plant since the Connors-Tardy LLC-owned furniture company went out of business in 2008.

The Board of Selectmen discussed a letter from state Economic and Community Development Commissioner George Gervais during its meeting on Oct. 17 regarding the existence of the additional $17,000 in the account.

The town needs to spend the entire amount in the TIF account on infrastructure, alterations and expansion on municipal properties by March 13, 2013.

Last month, the selectmen’s options were limited with only $6,000, which they were inclined to spend on developing a business plan for the Monson Community Center and for shimming and paving the entrance into the Monson museum. The town has contacted consultant John Holden, an attorney with Eaton Peabody law firm in Bangor, to write the plan.

The business plan will cost the town about $1,000, according to Monson officials, and will outline the process for transferring the community center to a new owner. Town Manager Julie Anderson indicated the plan should be finished shortly because Holden already has worked on several parts of it.

The board approved moving forward on those two projects and is considering ways to spend the remainder of the TIF account by the deadline. Other projects being considered include repairing sidewalks on the town’s northern end and sprucing up the signage welcoming motorists to Monson. The selectmen will continue to search for projects until all TIF funds have been spent.

In other action, the selectmen have requested that Monson’s RSU 68 representative Joel Pratt update them on the school budget more frequently in the coming year. Chairman Shawn Nelson indicated that one meeting each year with RSU 68 Superintendent Alan Smith wasn’t the best way to understand how the budget would affect residents.

“Right now we have that one big, one-hour meeting with the superintendent. It is a lot of information at one time,” Nelson said. “If Joel could come in and update us along the way, I think it would be a lot more effective.”

The next selectmen’s meeting will be a joint session with the planning board and wind power developer David Fowler of First Wind of Portland at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, in the municipal building. Fowler is looking for a path through Monson to run power lines.

The developer requested the meeting to discuss the town’s moratorium on windmill power adopted on Sept. 4. The planning board is working on a windmill ordinance for when the moratorium expires in March.

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