Council sets hearing on tax deals
BRUNSWICK — Town officials in Brunswick are working with a March deadline to iron out preliminary details of tax increment financing (TIF) districts at Brunswick Landing and the Brunswick Executive Airport.
On Tuesday, the Town Council voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing on geographic boundaries for two TIF districts — one for former Navy land at Brunswick Landing that will soon be conveyed for civilian reuse and one for the land associated with Brunswick Naval Air Station’s former airstrip.
Creation of the two districts, Town Manager Gary Brown said, would shelter the increase in the town’s overall property valuation from state assessment formulas starting this April, meaning “that value would not be considered when the state looks at our ability to pay our own bills,” Brown said.
The town’s overall tax valuation plays a key part in determining state-municipal revenue sharing and how much state education subsidy the Brunswick School Department would receive toward its annual operating budget.
Currently, the former Navy base property is not on Brunswick’s tax rolls. Without the creation of a TIF district, Brown said, the state would count that added land as a town asset, which could in turn mean less state and county funds for Brunswick.
“If we do not do these TIF programs and our valuation goes up, then we will get less from the state,” Brown told the council during its meeting Tuesday night. “Whether that translates to a tax increase depends on other factors of adopting our budget.”
The TIF districts would also allow the town to earmark property taxes generated on the property for economic development or other specific municipal uses.
The details of how any TIF funds would be used have yet to be worked out, Brown said, but the first step will be defining the geographic confines of the districts. The proposal outlined for the council Tuesday includes two separate districts because of a state restriction on the maximum acreage of a TIF district, Brown said.
Brown said that the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which needs to sign off on the locally crafted TIF proposal, gave an informal nod to a timeline involving the determination of geographic boundaries for the districts by March — with details on how the new property taxes would be split by the town and the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which oversees civilian redevelopment of the former Navy base, to be determined sometime during the summer.
Last week, MRRA executive director Steve Levesque told The Times Record that original TIF proposals on the property would shelter upward of $40 million at Brunswick Landing over 20 to 30 years.
With those funds, Levesque said, MRRA might upgrade and maintain utility systems and roads or make infrastructure enhancements or building improvements.
In a November memo to the Town Council, Brown outlined a rough plan for each TIF district.
For the Brunswick Executive Airport TIF district, Brown wrote, MRRA would receive 100 percent of revenue generated from new valuation on land serving aeronautical uses for the first 20 years.
For the Brunswick Landing TIF district, Brown wrote that the term of the TIF would be 30 years and that there are various options for how to split the new tax revenues between the town and MRRA, including a clear 50-50 split, a percentage split that changes over time, or a performance based formula that would allocate more to MRRA based on the number of jobs created at Brunswick Landing and the airport.
The public hearing on the TIF districts will be held on Feb. 6, during the council’s next meeting, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in the Town Council chambers at Brunswick Station, 16 Station Ave.
The council also gave unanimous approval Tuesday to send a letter indicating an intent to apply for a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant on behalf of Integrated Marine Systems Inc., which is based at Brunswick Landing.
William H. Peterson, president of IMS, said that the funds would allow his company to purchase a simulated flight deck to test aviation systems.
In a Jan. 11 memo, Brunswick Economic Development Specialist Brian Dancause wrote that the company also would seek $ 250,000 in matching funds through bank loans and private investment.
Peterson indicated in a Dec. 6 letter that the project would meet state stipulations for the grant program by creating at least seven new production jobs.
By the end of the year, Peterson wrote, the company plans to add 20 new employees.
Read Town Manager Gary Brown's memo and see the map for the TIF plans: