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Unanswered questions on Putnam project

To the Editor:

The Putnam Block so far is a $30 million project, to be financed in part with state and local funds. That part of this project is not my main concern at this point. It’s the second phase where the concerns arise. The private investors have dedicated only $156,000 to it, the state by the governor’s own hand gave the developers another million dollars, and the project is permitted.

My question is when will the voters of Bennington be fully informed about the amount of money the town will have to invest in this before this total project is finished? Why haven’t the taxpayers of Bennington been consulted with what they want?

There’s a state report on this project that estimates Bennington will need to raise almost $6 million through the creation of a TIF (tax increment financing) agreement with the owner for the second phase of this project to continue through all its stages, forgoing taxes on the value of this project. The idea is that Bennington will benefit from the jobs and investment this project will bring.

If this project does not generate enough money through the TIF, the taxpayers of Bennington will be responsible for the difference.

I want to know who is the owner that’s conducting this circus? Is it still BCIC (Bennington County Industrial Corporation)?

So far this project has been done without public input or explanation. Something’s wrong with this whole idea, in my opinion. What if the project fails? The town will never be able to recoup the taxes we’re contributing to the costs of the project. There are so many unknowns. Do we really expect the 100-seat restaurant to succeed? What if not enough tenants are interested in moving into the new housing units?

The Selectboard and town manager have been negligent in failing to provide all the details voters need to know about this project, and the expectations for contribution by the town. Shed some light on this before we’re beyond the point of no return.

Mike Bethel,

Bennington


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