A petition to let voters decide the fate of the “Roosevelt Promenade” Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District has been put on hold.

Windham resident Tom Gleason vowed to start a petition drive after the council voted 5-2 to approve the TIF district last Tuesday night. Under the TIF district, the majority of tax revenue collected from the new Lowe’s and Home Depot retail stores will be put aside for infrastructure studies and support of economic development in North Windham.

But incorrect tax figures and property values last Tuesday caused frustration among councilors and residents in attendance.

New property values for Lowe’s and Home Depot reduced the district’s tax revenue from $534,000 to $356,000 making the TIF district less palatable to some councilors and residents. Tax Assessor David Sawyer said, due to this year’s property revaluation, that number could drop to $240,000 if the tax rate is reduced.

Prior to last week’s vote, councilors placed a $210,000 cap on how much money per year would be put into the TIF fund for infrastructure improvements. This would have left most tax revenue available in the general tax account. But the new tax figures shifted that ratio, leaving less money to shoulder the property tax burden.

At last Tuesday’s council meeting, Gleason stormed up to the podium several times to ask where the real figures were and why the council wasn’t privy to the new numbers before the meeting.

Gleason doesn’t believe it’s worthwhile to perform the infrastructure studies and wishes the money be left available to offset the property tax burden or go toward paying for the town’s fuel costs.

“They should be putting money away for something that’s going to be needed. And more people should have the right to vote on it,” Gleason said.

In the future, Gleason said he may petition to put the TIF district on a November referendum vote so residents can have the final say on its fate.

In the meantime, state officials are reviewing Windham’s TIF district proposal that will capture all tax revenue generated by the home improvement giants and shelter this money from the state.


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