News from Around the State – January, 2020

Maine Department of Transportation: MDOT’s 3-Year plan represents $2.59 billion in spending, up 6% from the previous 3-Year plan. Over the next three years, MDOT’s work plan includes approximately 2,000 projects, which will include 148 bridge projects and 171 miles of highway construction and/or rehabilitation. The biggest project in the new plan is the replacement of the Madawaska-Edmundston bridge at an estimated cost of $84.6 million. The 928 foot- long span, built in 1920, crosses the St. John River and provides a vital link for residents and businesses in both Maine and New Brunswick.

‘100,000 Heat Pump Initiative’: The initiative signed into law last year is designed to ease the state’s dependence on fossil fuels. Rebates took effect January 1, 2020. There are two rebate categories:

  • Tier 1 Rebates are eligible for a $500 rebate for the first indoor unit and $250 for a second indoor or outdoor unit and
  • Tier 2 Rebates are for high-performance pumps that meet new Efficiency Maine standards. Rebates increased from $500 to $1,000 for the first indoor unit installed and $250 to $500 for the second indoor or outdoor unit.
  • The initiative provides $2,000 rebates for homeowners who receives LIHEAP.

‘Welcome Initiative’: The Machias Valley News Observer reported this new initiative that works to draw new workforce to Washington County. Mano en Mano and Sunrise County Economic Council are partnering to grow the year-round workforce in Washington County by building affordable housing for seasonal workers.

The Town of Richmond held a public hearing to renew the Pipeline Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. The TIF is a program that allows cities and towns to shield new value from development from calculations to preserve the amount of state aid for education and revenue sharing they receive from state government and the county tax assessments, saving residents some money. The TIF returns a portion of that sheltered property tax revenue to a developer whose project increased the value. It is a common economic development incentive. Under the town’s proposal, town officials would capture all the value of the TIF district, which would total about $8.3 million over the next 10 years.

Maine Forest Service: The Maine Forest Service is seeking public input on its Maine’s 2020 Forest Action Plan. The plan includes an assessment of current forest conditions and trends as well as identify threats and concerns. The plan also establishes priorities and provides strategies for addressing both issues and ways to invest state, federal and other partner resources in ways that successfully addressed identified management and landscape priorities.

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