Councillors and municipal staff from Calais and Baileyville met on the evening of February 21 to discuss ways in which the two communities could work together in a range of ways, from economic development to cost sharing of office supply purchases. Calais Mayor Marianne Moore said, "It's a great opportunity to work together and get some discussions." Baileyville Town Council Chair Tim Call told the group, "It's very important to the entire community, what's going on. Exciting things are happening." While Call could not make public some of the planning taking place, he did note, "Within the year we will see some good news coming out of Baileyville."
Woodland Pulp TIF application
Some of that good news may be related to a public hearing for a tax increment financing (TIF) district that was held the following week. Call explains that the TIF will be for a 25-year duration for Woodland Pulp and will have a sliding increment in tax savings from 50 to 80% depending on the amount of money invested and the number of jobs created. "They [Woodland Pulp] are putting together a considerable project." He adds, "The town would really like them to locate it here rather than at one of their other sites." The TIF application has been approved by the Baileyville council and sent to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. From there the application goes to the legislature for approval.
Scott Beal, a spokesman for Woodland Pulp, says in an interview that the TIF district will help Woodland Pulp attract future capital investment. The company has filed an application with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for two tissue machines at the Baileyville mill, and the TIF district could assist with financing for that project or other future projects. "It could be very beneficial for any type of future capital investment," he says.
"We benefit, but we don't benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of Baileyville," Beal comments about the TIF. "It's a win-win."
During the joint meeting, other areas that the two municipalities discussed were the sharing of public safety resources, marketing and branding tools, economic development plans and a welcome team for businesses and other professionals researching the area. Many selectmen at the meeting stressed the importance of the region coming together. "Each has assets that are important," said Moore. Calais City Manager Diane Barnes noted that training for municipal officials and staff is "another important area that could be shared" by surrounding communities. She explained that the training is free and easier to hold in the county if many people participate. "The more you can get to come the better."
The final leg of the meeting involved a report by Greg Bridges of the Princeton Regional Airport Authority, of which Princeton, Baileyville and Calais are members. The authority would like to see the airport expand to "regional status," which could allow it to accommodate larger airplanes. "We can handle all local aviation needs," Bridges said, but he stressed that larger planes belonging to corporations interested in doing business in the region needed a longer runway than the current 4,000 feet in Princeton. Bridges asked that both municipalities join Princeton in contributing $3,000 per year to build up a capital fund for Federal Aviation Administration grant match requirements.
Baileyville manager resigns
Newly hired Baileyville City Manager John Larkin, who started his first day of work on February 11, was on hand at the joint meeting. However, by the time of the TIF meeting held on February 25, he had resigned. Call expressed his regret at the resignation, explaining that Larkin had decided the position was not a good fit.