[For a good description of what a TIF is, how it works, and how it has been used in Maine by wind developers, see this link: http://realwindinfoforme.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=16&start=0 DC]
History was made last night in Skowhegan. For the first time in the history of Maine, a wind developer was DENIED a TIF! The decision by the Somerset County Commissioners is also the first time that First Wind has EVER been denied a TIF for a project.
This is a great thing for the people of Maine, and for all of those who believe in common sense over common greed!
I sat in the front row of last nights meeting, and I was extremely impressed by the conversation and decisions of the County Commissioners. The Commissioners have been dealing with First Wind, and collecting information, since at least August. In October, they appeared ready to vote down the TIF proposal. At that time, First Wind asked for more time and even paid for a ‘private consultant’ to help the Commissioners make their decision.
Since then, the Commissioners have continued to gather information, but from their public deliberations, I got the distinct impression that they were frustrated with First Wind and its lack of clarity and forthrightness. Several times they made mention of not getting the information that they had asked for.
First Wind, apparently sensing that the Commissioners were not happy with the process, recently asked that the proposal be tabled, indefinitely. At last nights meeting, the Commissioners all said that they were not comfortable with tabling any measure ‘indefinitely’ and they even remarked that such a request was not in line with proper procedure. So, they denied that request, and then proceeded to vote down the TIF request.
Although the Commissioners never said so, my personal feeling was that First Wind has been trying to ‘game’ the system, and play the people and leadership of Somerset County for their own gain. Last night, they found out that was a bad idea!
In what I believe was an extreme show of either arrogance, or apathy, First Wind didn’t even bother to send a representative to last nights meeting. However, ‘their side’ was not completely unrepresented. Jim Batey, Director of the private Somerset Economic Development Corporation, a group which stands to gain millions of dollars in redistributed TIF and ‘Community Benefit’ monies from this and similar projects, did speak. Mr. Batey did his best to shill for the Wind Industry as he requested that the Commissioners vote to table the measure indefinitely, and worried that they were making it harder for future proposals to be approved.
To their credit, the Commissioners weren’t buying it. They made it clear that this vote was not a vote against future TIF proposals from other companies, but that if First Wind wanted a TIF in Somerset County, they were going to have to come back with something ‘substantially more’ than the information that that they had presented to date.
The Somerset County Commissioners have taken a stand for what is right, and they have reaffirmed our faith that, with honest leadership, the system DOES work! Not only the residents of Somerset County, but everyone who believes in doing the right thing, and honest leadership, owes these Commissioners their thanks.
I encourage everyone to send them a short note thanking them for taking the time to do their research, and then doing what was right for Somerset County.
They can be reached at:
Commissioner Robert Dunphy— email@example.com
Commissioner Gerald York— firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Lynda Quinn— Lnquinn@hotmail.com
County Administrator Larry Post— Larry.Post@somersetcounty-me.org
For a good newspaper article on last nights meeting and decision, please see Erin Rhoda’s piece in this mornings Waterville Morning Sentinel, at:
This vote by our County Commissioners is a BIG win folks. Now, let’s keep the momentum rolling!