As a commercial real estate developer, Dirigo Capital Advisors has been a party to the creation of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts in a couple of Maine municipalities. These are complicated legal instruments that most people misunderstand. Last year, the Kennebec Journal took note of an innovative social media tactic we used to try to explain what a TIF is, and one Augusta city councilor called our YouTube video the best explanation of a TIF he’d ever heard.
Transparency in the creation of TIF districts is incredibly important, so we’d like to applaud reporter Naomi Schalit and the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting for an outstanding two-part series, “The TIF Game.” Even though we use TIFs as a development tool, DCA’s president Kevin Mattson shares some of the concerns articulated in Schalit’s report, particularly in regard to “credit enhancement agreements.”
A properly constructed TIF agreement is a very useful economic development tool, and a good agreement can certainly withstand the type of light that Schalit is shining on the use of TIFs here in Maine. No doubt TIF districts will continue to be created here in the state. But educated taxpayers and educated municipal officials are crucial to making sure that municipalities craft good agreements. Our thanks to the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting for significantly advancing the education process