Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two Democratic lawmakers are wrapped in a scandal surrounding the town of Poland’s Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts --Maine wire

POLAND – Two Democratic lawmakers are wrapped in a scandal surrounding the town of Poland’s Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts, some incomplete accounting work, and a bill some believe is too high.
Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin)
Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin)
The over-billing conflict became public knowledge following a July 15 Sun Journal story that quoted several Poland officials who were angry with Community Dynamic Corp.’s decision to bill the town $12,725 for services originally estimated to cost $6,900.

“I can understand 10 or maybe 20 percent over, but not this,” Selectman Walter Gallagher said of the bill, which was about 80 percent over estimate. “I’m furious. Taxpayers out there are going to be furious.”

Community Dynamic Corps. is a government services consulting firm run by Sen. John Cleveland (D-Androscoggin). Although the firm once had a larger staff, Rep. Nathan Libby (D-Lewiston), who is also a Lewiston City Councilor, is Cleveland’s only current employee.

The Sun Journal story did not disclose that Cleveland is a Democrat or a lawmaker. Nor did it disclose that a second Democratic lawmaker, Libby, was Cleveland’s only employee. A second Sun Journal story on the issue also did not disclose that Cleveland is a Democratic lawmaker.
Both Cleveland and Libby are up for reelection this fall, but now the pair of Democrats have found themselves in a pickle, as Poland’s board of selectmen demands to know why a project they were hired for came in several months after deadline and several thousand dollars over budget.
Rep. Nathan Libby (D-Lewiston)
Rep. Nathan Libby (D-Lewiston)
Bradley Plante, Poland’s current Town Manager, said he was not on the job when Poland’s selectman board inked the agreement with Cleveland, but that he was familiar with the details of the contract.

Plante said Cleveland was contracted in order to help the town with accounting work related to two TIF districts.

TIFs are a locally controlled economic development tool that allow municipalities to dedicate a portion of their property tax revenues to specific projects, such as infrastructure construction.
“There are two TIFs associated with the Poland springs property,” said Plante. “Somewhere along the line [the town of Poland] was commingling the accounting of the funds. In other words, they were lumping TIF 1 and TIF 2 together. And so what happened was, the state directed the town to split TIF 1 and TIF 2 and account for the funds separately.”


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