The developer of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station might have to delay infrastructure projects designed to attract businesses because the town has decided not to return any of its property taxes.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, said Wednesday that he had thought the town supported a 30-year tax-increment financing agreement for the new Brunswick Landing that would have returned $12 million in taxes to the authority.

But the Brunswick Town Council decided Tuesday night to terminate the agreement that the state approved in March — at least for this year.

Levesque said the authority is now exploring its options and plans to seek other sources of funding.

If it can’t come up with more money, planned projects — including utility, road and building upgrades — could be put “on ice for a while,” Levesque said.

The anticipated TIF money accounts for a fraction of the $170 million needed to implement the developer’s master plan, which envisions bringing 12,000 jobs to the site.

“It’s a piece we were counting on but not a piece that means the end of redevelopment,” said Levesque.

Since last year, when the base was decommissioned, it has become home to 16 businesses, in aviation, technology and other industries, with 150 employees and 500 more expected, he said.

Tuesday’s vote wasn’t taken as a definitive stance against tax-increment financing for Brunswick Landing, but a decision to put it “on hold,” said Town Manager Gary Brown.

Brown cited the town’s financial constraints and talk of changes to the state’s tax-increment financing laws as reasons the council rescinded the deal.

Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, a co-chair of the Legislature’s Taxation Committee, said he is not aware of any proposals to change tax-increment financing laws.

Council Chairwoman Joanne King and Vice Chairman Ben Tucker did not return phone calls Wednesday afternoon.

The council voted 8-1 Tuesday, with Councilor Benet Pols opposed, to inform the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development that Brunswick had terminated the two tax-increment financing districts for the former base.

The town had to split the base into two districts, which together covered 729 acres, because state law limits the land area for TIFs, Brown said.

The Department of Economic and Community Development approved the length and location of the districts in March. Neither Commissioner George Gervais nor Deputy Commissioner Deb Neuman returned calls Wednesday.

The town’s next step would have been to submit a development program to the department, specifying the terms for splitting the taxes generated by new development between the town and the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority.

Brown said the council was expected to decide Tuesday whether to move forward with that step. After a closed-door discussion, it decided against it.

 

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]