Fair Haven talks about fiscal stabilization, may add residential | New
FAIR HAVEN – To spur economic growth, the city is dusting off its old fiscal stabilization program, hoping to simplify it, make it more attractive and perhaps allow homeowners to take advantage of it.
Selectman Glen Traverse, interim chairman of the Economic Development Committee, said on Tuesday that the policy dates back many years and was last updated in 2013. Few people took advantage of it, however. According to Traverse, the committee has been working on an update for about a year now, and May 4 was blessed by the selection committee to continue.
The basic concept of fiscal stabilization, Traverse said, is that if a business wants to open or expand, the city will only tax part of the added value for a period of time. The tax rate increases slowly over time, up to 10 years. It only applies to municipal taxes and not to state school tax.
Traverse said more work needs to be done to research exactly what the city is allowed to do under statehood, but other cities have apparently done what Fair Haven wants to do.
One thing the city is considering is allowing residential taxpayers to use the program, for example if they wanted to build an addition to their home for a home office. Traverse said the board believes he will have to present the program to voters in March. Voters in 1994 approved a fiscal stabilization plan for industrial and commercial, not residential, businesses. The board, at the May 4 meeting, felt that this was a change substantial enough to warrant a new vote.
Traverse said Fair Haven has plenty of room to grow, saying only about 60% of its water and sewer hook-ups are in use. There was talk of renewing the program when a brewery looking to open up sought to apply and found it rather confusing.
While the committee will work to make the program more user-friendly, it was also suggested during the meeting that a package with information about the program be distributed to people looking for zoning applications, in order to better market it.
Traverse said the city was not really losing anything on the deal, as uncollected taxes would not have existed initially.
At the May 4 meeting, council members questioned whether tax stabilization would end if the property was sold or whether it would stay with the property.
Selectman Rod Holzworth feared some might manipulate the program to the loss of the city. He said the city will also have to decide whether or not to allow foreign companies to use the program. “As a country we tend to encourage international ownership and through regulation we slap the hands of US homeowners…” said Holzworth.
No decisions were made at the meeting other than the board generally agreeing that work was progressing on a good track. Traverse said a public hearing is expected to take place once details are worked out and the board is comfortable with the changes.