Economic Development

Posted on: October 10, 2017

Council's Economic Development Committee Sends TIF Policy Amendments to Council

NEWS ALERT

The City Council’s Economic Development Committee unanimously approved sending proposed amendments to Portland’s Tax Increment Financing Policy to the full Council with a recommendation for approval. The EDC reviewed a number of proposed amendments to TIF Policy with the public, City staff, and expert panelists over the last several months, incorporating some of them and rejecting others. The process began when Mayor Strimling referred policy changes through the Council last fall and presented proposed amendments to the Committee at its April 18, 2017 meeting. 


The proposed Committee amendments include requirements for private sector projects funded with City TIF District financial assistance and the associated construction employment with those projects. 


Highlights of the proposed TIF Policy amendments include: 

  • State Prevailing Wage Requirement. This is a new section in the TIF Policy that requires contractors in TIF projects to meet the state prevailing wage requirements for their employees. The Committee also proposes to require a yearly analysis by City staff that outlines the impact of this requirement. 
  • Affordable Housing TIF Project Support. The Committee recommended changes to support affordable housing projects in order to make Portland projects more competitive in the low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) application process.
  • City Green Building Code. The EDC clarified the applicability of the City’s Green Building Code to TIF funded projects. 
  • Equal Employment Opportunities and Nondiscrimination. This is a new section in the TIF Policy that assures that businesses receiving TIFs and contractors hired for the associated projects will meet the City’s equal employment and nondiscrimination requirements. 


Separately, the Committee proposes using the money the City receives from area wide TIF proceeds to create a Workforce Training Program to address broader business needs, including construction trades. If approved, the City will issue a Request for Proposals soliciting community organizations that can offer training programs to job seekers that need additional skills to attain long-term employment and future success in the workforce. 


Finally, the committee is recommending that a Disparity Study be undertaken to determine if contractor hiring practices in the city are discriminatory and whether preferences should be considered for women, minorities, immigrants, veterans, and local residents, among others, when approving the use of TIF funds. 


“Utilizing tax increment financing has been extremely valuable to the economic development of our city,” said Councilor David Brenerman, Chair of the Economic Development Committee. “Over the last two decades, these projects, which may otherwise not have gone forward, have contributed several million dollars in new tax revenue, maintained existing jobs, and created new ones in our community. These changes to our TIF Policy will ensure that it remains a valuable economic development tool.” 


“I’m pleased that should the Council approve this, we’ll be the first community in Maine to have prevailing wage requirements included in our TIF Policy,” said Mayor Ethan Strimling. “Additionally, improving our ability to receive funding for affordable housing projects and determining if discrimination exists in local hiring practices, will be important steps forward. I look forward to discussing these proposed amendments with the full Council at the November 6 meeting.” 

Economic Development Committee
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