HAMPDEN, Maine — After more than an hour of debate among themselves and with residents, town councilors voted 6-1 to adopt a property tax deal that will support Emera Maine’s plans to consolidate its southern region operations in Hampden.
Councilors directed that the utility’s application for a municipal development and tax increment financing district be send to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development for final approval.
When a TIF district is created, tax revenues from projects in the district go into a town revenue fund instead of the state’s general fund, and are sheltered from state and county taxes. The funds only can be used for certain projects that are approved by the state Department of Economic and Community Development, which oversees the TIF program.
According to its application, Emera Maine seeks to merge its Bangor-based operations into one central location off Meadow Drive in Hampden.
In 2012, Hampden officials reviewed the proposed project and negotiated terms for a tax increment financing district to support the project, as well as generate new revenue to invest in municipal development.
Formerly known as the Bangor Hydro Electric Co., the subsidiary of Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc. rebranded under its new name after it merged with Maine Public Service Co., which became Emera Maine’s northern region.
Emera Maine’s southern region maintains operations at six locations in four municipalities including Bangor, Hampden, Veazie and Lincoln.
Currently the property Emera owns in Hampden has a 13,000-square-foot warehouse-storage building just off Route 202 and alongside the U.S. Postal Service’s Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center.
Under the terms of the 25-year agreement, 50 percent of the taxes generated by the new construction would be refunded to Emera Maine for the first five years, 75 percent for years six through 10, 50 percent for the next five years and during the final five years, there would be no reimbursement.
The consolidation project will be conducted in two phases, Emera Maine’s application stated.
The first phase of construction, which will cost about $11.5 million, began last year and is expected to be completed and the facility occupied by late summer or early fall. It includes the additional warehouse space, a fleet service facility and a truck parking garage and space for offices.
Emera Maine anticipates the second phase, which will cost about $6.5 million, will involve construction of a two-story office building connected to the buildings added in the first phase. The company plans to start work on that aspect in 2017 and occupy it by early 2019.