Hallowell sets public hearing for next month on TIF renewal for Camden National Bank Ice Vault

HALLOWELL – Hallowell officials have scheduled a public hearing for next month on the 10-year renewal of a tax-enhanced funding and credit enhancement agreement for the Camden National Bank Ice Vault, formerly known as the name of Kennebec Ice Arena.

Facility owner Peter Prescott originally requested a 20-year 100% TIF credit enhancement proposal after the arena roof collapsed in 2011. The TIF was changed to 10 years and approved , with the option of an additional 10-year renewal after its May 2022 expiration.

The terms sought by Prescott and attorney Les Wilkinson were for a 10-year extension of the existing proposal, but with 95% of assessed taxes returned to the developer for the first six years, 85% in the seventh year, 75% in the eighth. year, 65% in the ninth year and 55% in the 10th year.

Hallowell resident Patricia Connors, who last year distributed a leaflet to townspeople urging them not to support an extension of the tax relief agreement, expressed her concerns at a meeting last Monday about extension of the agreement and urged the city not to pursue tax relief.

“Peter Prescott argued for a 20-year TIF with a (credit enhancement agreement) in 2010 and lost,” Connors said. “He lost because the board knew what he was doing. The board was right. He had enough money and he rebuilt. We would have to spend the more than half a million dollars that this extension would cost for necessary capital improvements, such as the police and public works departments. We will all benefit from these investments in our community.

Mayor George Lapointe thanked Connors for his comments, saying he and other Hallowell officials had received emails supporting and opposing the renewal of the TIF which is to be added to the public record at a public hearing scheduled for 14 February.

TIF neighborhoods house the property taxes generated by new developments. Once established, a TIF district allows a municipality to realize all the newly created value within it. Without a TIF, the newly created assessed value would flow into state funding formulas, resulting in decreased state aid for education and revenue sharing and increased county taxes. .

Credit enhancement agreements help developers by using a percentage of newly generated tax revenue to help cover project costs. These payments are made directly to the promoter or company.

The entrance to the Camden National Bank Ice Vault at 203 Whitten Road in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

On January 27, 2021, Hallowell’s Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend the extension, with Councilwoman Maureen AuCoin requesting that part of the town be moved to the downtown TIF district.

Councilors discussed the renewal on January 10 with attorneys Wilkinson, Greg Im and Shana Mueller. Prescott’s son, Steve, was present in his father’s absence. Peter Prescott was reportedly home with an illness.

Steve Prescott thanked council for considering renewal and explained how the Camden National Bank Ice Vault at 203 Whitten Road has benefited the community over the past 11 years.

“There is good community involvement and honestly what we have today is more experience and knowledge in running the programs we deal with,” said Steve Prescott.

AuCoin asked if figures related to the transfer of tax revenues, and its impact on what is paid to the school and the county and the municipal budget, would be available in time for a public hearing.

Lapointe asked if those numbers would be available in time for the Feb. 14 public hearing, and attorneys Im and Mueller nodded in agreement via the Zoom call.

Mueller said they would be able to provide the city with up-to-date numbers “well before February.”

Racks of rental skates last Wednesday at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault at 203 Whitten Road in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AuCoin suggested planning a future site visit so everyone knows how the rink benefits the community.

“I was up there this morning with Bob McIntire,” she said, “and we were picking up food for the food bank, so there are things that the (former) Kennebec Ice Arena does that I think we may not all be aware of, and I just realized this morning that there is another community benefit that they provide once a month. This is where Good Shepherd drops off food, not only for our communities, but also for surrounding communities.

McIntire is a town resident and active in the Hallowell All Age-Friendly Committee.

Councilor Diana Scully asked if the information presented at the February meeting could include the perceived advantages and disadvantages of renewing the TIF.

“There have been a number of concerns about the continuation of TIF,” Scully said. “To keep everything well balanced, I think we should look at both the concerns and the perceived benefits.”

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