Under the Dome

NC House votes for historic preservation tax credit program

The N.C. House voted 96-18 Wednesday to reinstate tax credits for historic preservation projects – a program that expired as part of Republican-led tax reform efforts two years ago.

House Bill 152 would create a scaled-back version of the tax credit, which expired at the beginning of the year as part of a Republican-led tax reform effort. The new credits would pay property owners less than the original program, with an expected annual cost to the state of $8 million. The available credit would be larger in the state’s poorest counties.

The program is a major priority for Gov. Pat McCrory, who’s been lobbying for its return across the state.

“This would revive economic development in pretty much every county in North Carolina,” said Rep. Stephen Ross, the Burlington Republican who sponsored the bill. “It creates lots of jobs.”

Rep. Jon Hardister, a Greensboro Republican, said the historic program makes sense despite the legislature’s efforts to eliminate tax breaks.

“I’m not a fan of tax credits,” he said. “I think it’s logical to make an exception for this particular case. I think it’s appropriate for government to play a role in historic development.”

Rep. Jeff Collins, a Rocky Mount Republican, said he can’t support the program because it applies to private homes – unlikely to generate much revenue – and it doesn’t require a local government match.

“I think all parties to a contract ought to have skin in the game,” Collins said.

Ross said local governments are spending heavily on infrastructure projects to make historic renovations work. And he noted that tax credits for private homes would be scaled back under the bill.

Another opponent of the bill, Republican Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern, says he’s working on a proposed amendment that would require a 50 percent match from local governments. “Let them help,” he said. “They’ll be much more selective about which things get rehabbed and which things don’t.”

Speciale said he’ll introduce the amendment Thursday when the bill comes up for a final vote.