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Unspoken Transformations in State & Local Government

In 2015, the Boothbay selectmen decided it was time for a new comprehensive plan. To introduce this idea the planners wrote:
The Town’s current comprehensive plan was adopted in 1989 following a period of somewhat rapid development and change in the community. The Town has used the 1989 plan as the basis for its zoning for almost 25 years. The passage of time and changes in the Town and the Boothbay region have made much of the plan out-of-date and a less than useful guide in managing the future of Boothbay. Therefore the Town has prepared this update of the Comprehensive Plan to serve as a guide for the decisions the Town must make about growth, development, redevelopment, and change over the coming decade. The 2015 Plan is a complete review of the issues facing our community and addresses emerging issues as well as providing a fresh look at ongoing issue
Our family moved to East Boothbay since 1958. The number of businesses on Ocean Point Road have remained relatively the same In recent years. Several well financed institutions have since located in Boothbay. The most recent is the Boothbay Harbor Country Club, purchased by Paul Coulombe in 2014.

Tiff increment financing is incorporated in the 2015 comprehensive plan. Tiff financing was voted in by a close margin in 2014. Tiff financing borrows on projected future property tax revenues of a property to finance the development of the same property. If projections fail to materialize, the expenditures must be paid for by increasing existing property taxes.
Tax increment financing (TIF)is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects in many countries, including the United States. Similar or related value capture strategies are used around the world. Through the use of TIF, municipalities typically divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area or district toward an economic development project or public improvement project in the community. The first TIF was used in California in 1952. By 2004, all 50 American States had authorized the use of TIF. The first TIF in Canada was used in 2007. As the use of TIFs increases elsewhere, in California, where they were first conceived, in 2011 Governor Jerry Brown enacted legislation which led to elimination of California’s nearly 400 redevelopment agencies that implemented TIFs, in response to California's Fiscal 2010 Emergency Proclamation thereby stopping the diversion of property tax revenues from public funding. The RDAs are appealing this decision.TIF subsidies are not appropriated directly from a city's budget, but the city incurs loss through foregone tax revenue.
Tax Increment Financing Wikipedia

Boothbay voted for its first tiff financing project in 2016, a project to create a round about with an exit for the road leading to the Botanical Gardens and a grand entrance to the Boothbay Harbor Country Club (located in Boothbay). One of the videos promoting the project is narrated by a transportation consultant for GHD Inc. The narrator says that the coastal villages have become increasingly attractive. Since coastal villages have always been attractive, the statement implies an unspoken intended demographic which is becoming increasingly interested in coastal villages. The narrator says that problems identified by DOT needs a multi-agent/mutli-party co-operative agreement, which is exactly what is written into state law in MaineDOT’s Business Partnership Initiative, codifying the distribution of Maine transportation funds as a public-private relationship in which there is no central planning for state needs. Instead funds are distributed on a first- come, first-serve basis to the public-private relationships with the most cash in hand. Connecting the dots, a group to whom coastal villages are becoming increasingly attractive is the public-private hegemony.

An analysis of the state law for distribution of transportation funds shows that it advantages communities with private developers over communities with the most need. Any community can be portrayed as having serious problem such as the occasional pedestrian crossing the road or intersections of any type. The video does this well through its choice of narrator.

Under MaineDOT’s Business Partnership Initiative  there is no function for prioritizing the greatest needs in our state until it involves repeat distributions to the same community. Traditionally, making state-wide assessments is the role of state government. Since the seventies, government by and for the people has been incrementally replaced with government by and for public private relationships. The justification used in  The Governor’s Task Force report of 1976 for instituting government by public-private relationships was the need for capital. Period. Capital accumulation through any means continues to be the dominating factor to this day. Rhetoric in the DOT code, pertaining to other factors has little standing by virtue of fact that the funds are distributed on a first come fist serve basis and communities bringing the greatest percentage of local funds are the most likely to receive funding,
Project Selection/Eligibility MaineDOT will continuously accept project applications and eligible projects will be selected on a first come first serve basis. Additional project selection/eligibility factors
include the following:
Additional project selection/eligibility factors include the following:
  • Economic Development & Job Creation: Preference will be given to projects that increase roadway capacity and allow for job growth and facilitate economic development.
  • Safety: The improvement will impact a direct safety need such as infrastructure improvements that address an area with a high crash history or potential for hazardous conditions.
  • Customer Benefit: Preference will be given to projects based on the amount and degree of benefit that travelers will realize from the benefit. 
  •  Degree of Betterment: Projects that provide a greater infrastructure benefit than others such as increasing capacity/mobility and reducing maintenance costs will be given a higher priority. 
  • Percentage of Local Match: The greater the percentage of non-MaineDOT funding, the greater the likelihood the project will be selected. 
  • Prior BPI Awards: MaineDOT will seek to fund eligible projects in all interested municipalities prior to issuing multiple grants to the same one. (emphasis added)
The media consistently reports on projects financed by public-private relationships as if the private partners are the benefactors of the public sector. The public is encouraged to vote for a project because of the private money which can be accessed for the project- or the state money- or the federal money, as if all government money is free money, when in fact it all comes from taxpayers somewhere in the state or the nation. In this case every community in Maine, even those with greater needs than Boothbay, will be pitching in their fair share to finance the Boothbay Round About, because Boothbay is lucky enough to have Mr Coulombe putting us at the head of the line in the states first-come-with-the-highest-amount-of-money-in-hand, first-serve, transportation funds distribution process. As typical with most of our economic development laws codified since the Longley administration, it benefits the wealthiest among us. We will probably never know to what degree the deal benefits Mr Coulombe because state economic code is written as separate but interlinking parts. We will not know if or how Mr Coulombes tax accountant takes advantage of the Seed Capital Refundable Tax Credit worth up to 60% of an investment.That information is protected by tax privacy laws.

The way the system is designed is found in a nutshell in the  The Governor’s Task Force report of 1976, which paired a 100% tax exemption for all investment companies investing in Maine small businesses with a 50% tax credit, This was the era when refundable tax credits were first coming into use in the USA and the Longley board was quick to jump on the band wagon. A refundable tax credit means if no taxes are owed, the people owe the holder a cash payment. The pairing of a 100% tax exemption with a refundable tax credit is the equivalency of the taxpayers underwriting 50% of an investors investment, while all of the profit is retained by the investor. The statute for the Maine Capital Corporation, a private investment company chartered by the Maine Legislature has been repealed but the 100% tax exemption remains in place.

The Governor’s Task Force report of 1976, had only two recommendations, one being to create the Maine Capital Corporation and the other was this:

2, eliminate the requirement for a local referendum on municipal bond issues. -Governor’s Task Force for Economic Redevelopment-1976

There are a number of ways in which the second goal has been achieved in the years since but the primary means of doing so is to organize municipalities into regions and to institute a regional board in place of an elected government. The JECD is one such example. It was not voted into being by the inhabitants of the two municipalities. Instead it was decided upon by the town selectmen of both towns. Throughout my conversation with Wendy Wolf as the spokesperson for the JECD, she denied that the JECD had any authority and that it was working under the selectmen. She never mentioned that she is Chairwoman of the Boothbay Harbor Selectmen, portraying herself as a volunteer.

The worst example in the state of municipalities losing their right to a public referendum is the Kennebec Regional Development Authority chartered in 1997, (Angus King Administration) as a regional development corporation under Private and Special Law section of Maine statutes.
Sec. 1 Kennebec Regional Development Authority established; incorporation; purposes The territory, cities, towns and plantations that on the effective date of this Act comprise the so-called Kennebec Valley Economic Development District, or any combination of such cities, towns and plantations, constitute a body politic and corporate to be known as the Kennebec Regional Development Authority, referred to in this Act as the "authority," for the benefit and welfare of the inhabitants thereof and to:…. 
This is the most shocking story that I uncovered in my research. I covered it in Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production in the chapter titled To Be or Not to Be Sovereign.

This brings us to reason #2 for establishing a charter for the Town of Boothbay. Currently with no charter. the town selectmen define their own parameters of power. A town charter can establish those parameters


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