CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou City Council discussed the possibility of acquiring the Sitel building at 68 Sweden St. following its Oct. 31 closure, and ultimately decided to revisit the issue during its next scheduled meeting on Oct. 28.
The matter was discussed during a private, executive session during the Oct. 15 council meeting, after which Caribou City Manager Dennis Marker said no motions were made. Four of the seven councilors attending the meeting agreed that they would like to research the matter further before agreeing to the transaction.
The drafted agreement involves Sitel giving the city the building, along with the parking lots and surrounding property for free if the city agrees that Sitel has met the standards of their current credit enhancement agreement.
Marker said the credit enhancement agreement required Sitel to repay $25,000 in tax reimbursements over a five-year period, beginning in 2020, if they do not have 100 employees on the site.
Since the city was the previous owner of the building and property, they were given a first right of refusal for the building, property, and adjacent parking lots as part of a contract with Sitel.
Sitel Group Global Communications Director Rebecca Sanders said in July that the Sweden Street office, which employs roughly 100 people, would be closing this month “due to recent business changes.”
The building and property are worth well more than $1 million, with the building assessed at $1,363,900 and the surrounding land assessed at $20,000 in addition to $195,900 worth of personal property.
From its 2015 arrival in Caribou to 2019, Sitel has provided the city with a total of $178,269.65 in tax revenue.
Despite the revenue loss, city officials are looking at potential economic, social and financial benefits associated with acquiring the building.
“The city is considering several options to use the space and maintain jobs in the downtown core,” Marker said. “The building has great communications infrastructure which can be used for entrepreneurial support, higher education, and research and development.”
Marker added that the city has also received suggestions asking them to consider addressing space limitations within the current police station, which is located on the ground floor of the city office.
The parking lots, which are owned and controlled by Sitel, would be turned over to the city if it acquires the property.
“Ultimately,” Marker said, “we are looking at all options that could drive more traffic into the heart of the community, support local businesses, and try to limit the tax burden.”