A plan to revive downtown Brunswick is closing in on a deadline for local officials to act.
The tax allocation district proposed for the city’s historic core, its waterfront and Gloucester Street and U.S Highway 17 corridors must be approved by the county commission and school board by the end of the year, if they choose to participate.
City commissioners approved the plan Oct. 4. The county commission and school board will vote on the matter Nov. 21 and Dec. 12, respectively.
At stake is whether or not the school board and county commission will contribute future incremental tax growth from properties within the district.
If the TAD is established, property taxes would be set at a baseline level in the year the TAD is formed. Then, the city, along with private developers, revitalization. Roads can be repaved, run-down buildings can be demolished, and infrastructure can be upgraded, all to attract developers.
Government can finance these improvements through long-term loans, called bonds, or “pay as they go.” Over time, property values inside the TAD increase, so more property tax is collected. The difference between the baseline tax and the increase after improvement goes into a special account used to pay off bonds, or ensure the continuity of the “pay as you go” model.
According to the plan laid out by the consulting firm Bleakly Advisory Group, the proposed TAD could generate as much as $63.4 million is taxable value. That value could support more than $16 in bond proceeds, if nine hypothetic projects the plan spells out occur.
City Manager Jim Drumm said last week it was too early to discuss specific projects, and the types of proposed developments could change as new opportunities emerge.
The school board heard about the proposal in October and is still considering the issue, said board spokesman Jim Weidhaas last week.
During the discussion, some board members expressed concerns about how the TAD would be administered and requested further information.
County commissioners will hear about the proposal at a work session later this month, County Manager Alan Ours said.
Because of the way TADs work, only future growth in revenue would be used to pay off any bonds or projects. Taxes already being collected would continue to go to the respective taxing authorities at the same level they do today.
Ken Bleakly, president of the Bleakly Advisory Group, said that makes the creation of a TAD a relatively safe bet for tax payers and the three local taxing jurisdictions.
“It’s really a win-win situation,” he said last week by phone. “There’s really nothing to lose.”
Still, it seems city commissioners will have to wait until later this year to find out if the two other governing boards will sign on to the idea.