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Town OKs new TIF district

  • Andy Peterson speaks against implementing a new Tax Increment Finance District during a special Town Meeting on Thursday night. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett speaks for a new Tax Increment Finance District during a special Town Meeting on Thursday night. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 9:8AM

Despite some protests from residents that the process was rushed, or would cut into incoming revenue that could help stabilize the tax base, residents at a Special Town Meeting on Thursday passed a new Tax Increment Finance district.

In a TIF district, when there is new construction or significant renovations that raise the assessed value of a property, the tax value of that increase is set aside in a special fund for infrastructure improvements within the district.

The tax dollars from that new assessed value are not added to the town’s general fund, nor are they allocated to the school district. There are two multi-million dollar development plans already either approved or in the planning stages within the district, which encompasses a rough triangle of land along Routes 101 and 202.

The district includes a proposed $10 million expansion at the RiverMead Lifecare community and a $5 million housing development on Church Street.

The tax dollars from those improvements, explained Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett, would amount to about $462,000 a year. Those tax dollars would be dedicated to projects in that area, including rebuilding or repairing the three bridges in the district, one of which – on Morrison Road – is on the verge of being red-listed.

Discarding the Healthcare district

The town already has several TIF districts. By law, towns are only allowed to have TIF districts cover a certain amount of area in a town, and to account for a certain amount of the town’s assessed value. In order to implement the new district, the town was required to eliminate one of their existing districts.

The Healthcare TIF district was first formed in 2007, but has never had any development that produced funds for the district.

The town allowed the district to be disbanded with no discussion from the audience.

A new district

When it came time to discuss the newly proposed district, however, several residents voiced their objections.

“I rise in opposition to the motion, Mr. Moderator,” said Andy Peterson, a Peterborough realtor. Peterson said that while all of the legal requirements for implementing a new TIF district had been met, he felt that “rushing forward” to implement a new district went against the spirit of the law that requires informing the public. He also took issue with the implications of taking potential new assessed value off the tax rolls.

“If we choose to take large sections of tax base out, that’s less for our schools, our roads, or recycling center,” said Peterson.

Resident Mandy Sliver agreed, saying that as expenses rise, it would be nice to have the tax money from that additional assessed value to help offset those new expenses.

Peterson also suggested that the process was rushed by the Special Town meeting, which was a point also brought up by other residents.

The Select Board defended the value of TIF districts, saying that the purpose of them was to stimulate economic growth by improving conditions in an area and making them more attractive for businesses. This sentiment was echoed by George Sterling, the chair of the Economic Development Authority, who said residents could look to West Peterborough to see how a TIF could benefit an area.

“What has happened out there has spurred much development,” said Sterling, who said TIFs had been a “huge benefit for the town, both for businesses and residents.”

When the matter came to a vote, the townspeople did pass the measure in a hand count, despite multiple detractors.

The new TIF district will remain in place for 20 years, or until disbanded by Town Meeting vote.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com.