ARUNDEL — At Arundel’s annual Town Meeting at the Mildred L. Day School on Wednesday night, voters approved the implementation of a tax increment financing district that is tied into the impending development of Arundel Seasonal Cottages, a seasonal resort facility that town officials have touted as a boon to economic development.

The TIF is the second that has been approved in recent months; in March, a TIF was green-lighted for the Central Maine Power corridor, with revenues from that district set aside for fire-rescue equipment that was deemed necessary to respond to emergency situations within that specified zone.

A TIF, as described by Town Planner Tad Redway, essentially captures the increase in valuation in a designated area and sets it aside for a specific purpose, usually for infrastructure improvements and other projects pertaining to a certain area.

In the case of Arundel Seasonal Cottages, the town has entered into an agreement with the developer to have 25 percent of the captured valuation on the project’s site routed directly into Arundel’s general fund; the remaining 75 percent of the valuation will be split evenly among the town and the developer, with the money sequestered for reinvestment in the development itself or related ventures.

“A TIF will shelter some revenues ”¦ and saves us some money from revenue sharing,” said Town Manager Todd Shea during a public hearing prior to Wednesday night’s vote. The money, he said, is also shielded from state and county taxes.

Redway said that the TIF district will help to kick-start a business climate in the town that will serve to boost the local economy.

“This is supposed to be a catalyst for development,” said Redway. “It will bring a new population into Arundel,” prompting people to spend money on existing businesses in town.

“It provides opportunities for businesses that we haven’t seen yet in Arundel,” he said.

Shea said the new TIF will help to cover the developer’s start-up costs on the project.

Town Clerk Simone Boissoneault, speaking as a resident, touted the possibilities inherent in a new development, echoing Redway’s assertion that the local business climate will receive a boost ”“ not in small part due to the seasonal residents who will occupy the 259 proposes cottages.

“All of these places are going to gain business from that,” said Boissoneault. “We want to do something to see Arundel go from a bedroom community” to a place of vibrant business.

The duration of the TIF will be for 25 years, and that, said Shea, will defray the “astronomical start-up costs.”

And if the development goes south ”“ a situation officials doubt will emerge ”“ the town will be protected by a credit enhancement agreement, and the TIF will be dissolved, unless a new developer comes in to complete the project.

While not all voters were convinced, the article passed with a hefty majority.

All other articles passed as well, most pertaining to the municipal budget.

Besides the TIF issue, the article that generated the most discussion was funding of the Kennebunk Free Library. While $12,000 was proposed, one voter claimed that few townspeople use the library’s services, and made a motion ”“ which was seconded ”“ to bring the amount down to $2,500.

Other voters chimed in to defend the higher funding total for the library, decrying the town’s decision in 2012 to bypass funding for KFL altogether, which resulted in the library charging a $35 annual user fee for Arundel residents. Voters restored funding last year at a total of $12,000.

“The library is a vital and essential part of our town,” said one voter. “The kids of this town ”¦ need access to good educational facilities.”

“As a forward-thinking community, it is essential we support the full amount of funds,” said another.

The proposal to lower the amount of funding was ultimately rejected, and the original $12,000 appropriation was approved by a large majority.

— Staff Writer Jeff Lagasse can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 319 or [email protected]

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