BATH

The city is seeking to amend tax breaks for Bath Iron Works — including a controversial new proposal due to be voted on Wednesday.

Currently, the proposed TIF would give the city and BIW a 50-50 split for all new taxes garnered by the construction of an outfitting hall BIW wishes to build adjacent to Ultra Hall.  BIW would have rebated back to it some $250,000 in taxes annually, for a total of about $6.5 million over the life of the TIF.

The city now proposes a 50-50 split for 10 years, followed by 40 percent for BIW over the next five years. The remaining TIF term would grant the city 100 percent of taxes.

According to figures provided by the city, total projected earnings for Bath over the 24-year life of that TIF would be $9,014,760 — 71 percent of the total. BIW would receive $3,711,960 — 29 percent.

The new proposal will be part of a public hearing planned for Wednesday’s City Council meeting, and councilors will consider both proposals as they vote on the TIF that evening.

The Wing Farm TIF District, established in 2008, was composed of two separate parcels of land: about four acres at BIW, on which the Ultra Hall was built; and the land where Wing Farm exists today. 

The 2008 TIF supplemented a bond necessary to finance a $2 million expansion of Wing Farm Business Park and to outfit the TIF district with utilities and roads near it.  

Most of this work is complete, but the city has now added road improvements to its comprehensive list of public works upgrades it wants funded by the amended Wing Farm TIF. 

These road improvements are expected to cost $725,000, and city officials want to use about 29 percent of the road bond just passed in the November election to fund that work. Over the next 24 years, they would retire that 29 percent using the TIF funds from Wing Farm. 

City officials derived the 29-percent figure by determining that certain streets qualify for TIF funding because they are feeder roads for BIW or Wing Farm.

Some of the 2008 Wing Farm funds — about $550,000 — were also used to make improvements on Congress Avenue, including sidewalks and bike paths, as well as the roundabout at the corner of State Road and Congress. 

Future spending will including “traffic calming” measures on roads such as Leeman Highway at a cost of $1.2 million. These costs would be funded by a mix of TIF funds from the Wing Farm deal and from the current proposal under consideration.

Also in that wish list of proposed city improvements that could be undertaken using TIF funds: a new fire truck capable of reaching the top of the new outfitting hall, at a cost of $63,700; recruitment to the Wing Farm district, at $400,000, which could include employee training, marketing expenses, and possibly the establishment of a revolving loan fund for commercial enterprises who move in.

Changes to another TIF already in place downtown have been tabled.

Those changes would include TIF additional funding for the Walkable City Inititative, including a 1999 plan for a “river walk” that would lead from the train station to Waterfront Park and beyond; a cultural center, possibly to be located at Winter Street Center; parking improvements, redevelopment funds for the former YMCA; and brighter, more energy-efficient lights downtown area.

Some of the downtown projects, including the improvement of the train station, construction of the new public pier and other improvements at Waterfront Park, and a marker program to highlight Bath’s history in the downtown area, had already been completed. 

The total value of all improvements funded by Bath and BIW-related TIFs will top $5,338,700 by the end of next fiscal year, accoridng to figures provided by the city.

In the budget for FY 2014,  BIW TIF revenues will pay for debt service, as planned; contributions to Main Street Bath and to the Bath Development Corporation for economic development; support for the train station and trolley; and additional historical markers.  Total spent from the fund will be $934,735, leaving the city with a small surplus of $6,231.

The Wing Farm Park TIF will be used to pay down the debt, and leaves a surplus of $49,330.

The Downtown TIF will also be used to pay down its debt, and leaves a surplus of $4,900.

The meeting on Wednesday includes the second public hearing on the BIW TIF amendment. 

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.



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