Council dicusses TIF for Caribou biofuels plant

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
17 years ago

    CARIBOU, Maine – A proposed business at the former Maine Frozen Foods site adjacent to the bypass was the topic at Caribou City Council Monday, when councilors discussed the possibility of a tax increment financing application for the business and what must be done before one can be approved.
    “Council held a public workshop where we sat down with the development team for the project and talked about a TIF being established for the industrial complex at the former site of Maine Foods,” said City Manager Steve Buck.
The business has been identified as Maine Biofuels International, operated by Nasiff Lands LLC. Buck said it wasn’t clear under which name the TIF application would be drawn up at this point.
Also discussed were elements to be built into a credit enhancement agreement.
“Environmental remediation costs and upgrades to the existing building complex were discussed at the workshop to give Council a level of knowledge with respect to what’s being asked for,” said Buck.
At Monday evening’s session, councilors gave authorization for administration to go forward to develop a TIF application.
“The Department of Economic and Community Development will be involved in the process,” said Buck.
The process would also include the formulation of a credit enhancement agreement.
“At this point, the Council hasn’t committed to a TIF district. Once it’s in final application, then the Council will determine the city’s commitment. We’re anticipating a public hearing on the TIF sometime early in October,” said Buck.
Buck said the city is hoping the site will be operational by March 2008, to fall under TIF rules. He said city officials have been impressed by the company’s ability to address concerns and willingness to do what’s necessary to work with the city.
“There’s strong recognition from the city. The developer is going forward with environmental remediation. A credit enhancement agreement will greatly assist in the expense involved in doing such,” said Buck.
A local contact would not comment beyond the fact the property is owned and managed by Nasiff Lands and that the business is working diligently within Maine state and local guidelines to prepare the sit for future development. He could not provide more details at this time.
Buck said company officials have been working closely with a number of Aroostook County entities to move the project forward.
“I take my hat off to this group. They’ve spoken with all the correct partners. To my knowledge, they’ve spoken with Rural Development, NMDC, the city, dealt with Pine Tree and Empowerment zones. They’re a great team to work with. I’ve been working with Tim Wilkins. He’s been providing a great flow of information,” said Buck.
Though the type and number of jobs have not been determined at this time, Buck said the business would be a plus to the economy of Caribou and the county as a whole, since it would mean added jobs – not only at the plant but possibly for local farms as well.
“The site will be home for the new business and plans are being discussed to provide space at the location for other compatible businesses,” said Buck. “The jobs created will be a plus to our community and the County.”