2018-12-06 / Letters

Biddeford is pulling one over on residents

To the editor:

How many times have Biddeford residents read/heard that the proposed parking garage won’t affect/impact taxes or taxpayers?

Even Biddeford City Councilors have said/promised that they wouldn’t support a parking garage if it involved tax dollars.

Well, the Biddeford Parking Management Plan clearly states that TIF funds will be used to pay for the garage. A point of clarification: The “T” in TIF stands for taxes and to be more exact “property tax dollars” generated by Biddeford taxpayers. The parking management plan also states that annual TIF payments will be made for the parking garage averaging $668,494 tax dollars per year for the next (17) years starting in 2018.

So where’s all this money coming from? Like they say, “Follow the money.” Let’s try.

In 2004, the city of Biddeford created the Alfred, Andrews Municipal TIF District, which had a life span of (12) years ending in (2016). The original intent of the TIF was to build a business park off Andrews Road and create hundreds of jobs. However, something happened along the way. The TIF was apparently intercepted and the “sales pitch” of a business park and hundreds of jobs no longer existed.

It seems that according to a (2013) document, the former Casavant administration took it upon itself to amend the aforementioned TIF several times. First, to change the title to the now Route-111/Mill District TIF, then, to add more Route 111 businesses to the district to capture more property tax dollars, and to extend the TIF to year (2034), the maximum allowed and finally to add $15 million in property tax dollars (not to repair JFK School, community center, clock tower, etc.), but to fund a parking garage.

Why is downtown parking revenue even needed when $15 million in property tax dollars have already been earmarked/set aside for the garage? How can city officials remove $15 million tax dollars of revenue for a parking garage and claim in good faith that it won’t affect the taxpayers?

Had the Casavant administration allowed the original TIF to expire in (2016), wouldn’t all those tax dollars be available today for the city’s long list of real needs rather than for an individual’s want? Is it even legal for city officials to spend such an enormous amount of property tax dollars without voter approval?

It’s clear that the use of property taxes for the parking garage is well documented, therefore the Biddeford City Council should keep its promise and put the garage on the back burner where it belongs and address the real priorities in Biddeford, otherwise, our children and grandchildren stand to inherit a crumbling community with a $71 million bond debt.

I and a thousand others wish it was our vote to make.

Lionel Beaudoin Biddeford

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