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Until a Developer is In Place, Tax Increment Financing Plan for Collins Company Complex Re-Development Would be ‘Preliminary’

March 31, 2016 Business, Community, Government No Comments
A portion of the Collins Co. complex. Photo by John Fitts

A portion of the Collins Co. complex.
Photo by John Fitts

By John Fitts 

While a specific proposal will be necessary to complete a Tax Increment Financing master plan for re-development of Collins Company factory complex, a consultant can help develop the basic framework before that happens, town officials said.

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is the concept of taking some of the future tax revenues from a project and investing them back into a project – or related improvements.

Following a recent state law that revamped and clarified the scope of the TIF in Connecticut, Canton received a $10,000 Preservation of Place grant from Connecticut Main Street Center to help develop a TIF district and Master Plan that would set the parameters on an option for the factory and downtown Collinsville. The plan is expected to cost as much as $25,000 and the additional funds would  come from the Canton Economic Development Agency’s marketing budget.

On Wednesday, the Canton Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Steering Committee met briefly to talk about its next steps and past actions.

On March 17, the committee Saratoga-Springs based Camoin Associates and Columbia, MD–based MuniCap, Inc. – the two companies interested in helping the town develop a master plan.

The committee recommend one of those firms and town officials are working to negotiate a contract. The name which was not disclosed due to ongoing negotiations.

Once there is an agreement, that firm, with assistance and input from the steering committee, will work to develop a “Preliminary TIF Master Plan.”

“That’s a platform that would be available for future developers to build upon,” said Neil Pade, Canton’s director of Planning and Community Development.

That preliminary plan would include aspects such as how the town plans to use the program to support re-development, estimated tax revenue from re-development, how much revenue should go back into the project, physical boundaries, and potential funding and support options based on market conditions and input from town officials, the public and property owners.

Once a developer is in place, the preliminary plan could be used for final evaluations, a financial plan and consensus among the public, town officials and property owners.

Committee chairman Gary Roman said while it seems that the plan would be left somewhat unfinished without a developer, both potential consultants were clear about that process.

“We learned that it would be abundantly more successful if there is a developer that has a contract that they can evaluate,” he said. “We realize there’s some shortcomings without that named developer.”

Among those in attendance were First Selectwoman Leslee Hill and Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner. Both said they understood and agreed that the final TIF plan would require a specific proposal. Hill said her understanding of the state statute re-iterated that exact point and she was happy with a plan laid out for the committee to help the process along.

“I think this does exactly what the board (of selectmen) needs and wants to see,” she said.

Town officials have also said the TIF Master Plan Process does not obligate the town in any way.

Also on Wednesday, the committee briefly talked about the idea to invite potential developers to a future meeting and agreed to open that invitation.

Roman said James Tilney, manager of the partnership that currently owns the complex, recently indicated that there are still two groups actively negotiating options for the facility. Tilney is out of town and was not immediately available for comment Thursday to confirm if that was still the case.

Committee members said the are also hopeful that other potential groups would come forward, encouraged by the TIF process.

To many, the former factory complex is one of the most important issues in town. With its 19 acres and 13 buildings, several businesses are based out of the complex but town officials said the property currently generates approximately $32,131 in yearly tax revenue. With re-development that potential is closer to $1.47 million annually, according to information presented at an annual town meeting earlier this year.

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