Under the Dome

House lawmakers push historic preservation tax credits

A bipartisan group of House members pushed their version of a new historic tax credit Tuesday, saying it would boost economic development and provide jobs.

Their bill, passed overwhelmingly last week by the House, came a day after the Senate relegated the House bill to a committee that seldom meets. The Senate, meanwhile, was poised to consider a competing bill that would put historic tax credits in the hands of local governments, not the state.

Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz joined Speaker Tim Moore and other House members at a news conference extolling the credits.

“It’s truly critical for our economic recovery,” Kluttz told reporters.

The old historic tax credits expired Jan. 1. State officials say they leveraged nearly $1.5 billion in private investments in North Carolina since 1998, including the conversion of several Charlotte textile mills.

The proposed new credits differ in several ways. On residential projects, for example, applicants could get a 30 percent credit under the old plan. The most they could get under the new plan is 15 percent.

Like other House members, Moore lauded the tax credits as a way to renovate not only buildings but entire towns.

“It’s incredible to see an area that’s fallen into disrepair being brought back to life,” he said.

The bill is expected to face resistance in the Senate, where senators have said it’s inconsistent with last session’s tax overhaul. GOP Rep. David Lewis sought to counter that argument, saying the House measure was consistent with an effort to spur development and create jobs.

The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Matthews Republican Bob Rucho. It would authorize local governments to subsidize historic preservation. In December, Rucho, who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said historic preservation was not a “top priority” for the state.

Rep. Stephen Ross, a Burlington Republican and lead sponsor of the House bill, said local governments already contribute to preservation by providing infrastructure and other help.

“There’s a lot of money that local governments already put into these projects,” he said.

Morrill: 704-358-5059