Under the Dome

NC senator: Historic tax credit plan sent to ‘graveyard’

Sen. Tom Apodaca, the Senate Rules chairman, said Wednesday that the historic preservation tax credit bill passed by the House last week is “not anything the Senate is interested in.”

House Bill 152 passed the House 98-15 and was sent to the Senate, where it was referred to the Ways & Means Committee. That panel, also chaired by Apodaca, very rarely meets.

“I would say that the Ways & Means Committee is a graveyard,” Apodaca said Wednesday. “I know it’s Easter, but I don’t know if anything will be resurrected.”

Rep. Stephen Ross, a Burlington Republican and a primary sponsor of the House bill, responded to Apodaca’s comments, saying, “I think there are graveyards on both sides.”

Apodaca said the Senate instead would probably put its support behind a historic preservation bill filed by Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican. As written, it would allow cities or counties – not the state – to make grants of loans for rehabilitation of commercial or noncommercial, publicly or privately owned historic structures.

Apodaca said he believed that bill is a “much more pragmatic way to go about it.”

Ross questioned whether opponents of his bill understood that local governments already spend money on historic preservation projects to make them work. “I don’t know what else I can do to help them understand that, but that’s the reality,” he said.

Ross also said he would continue to push for House Bill 152. “It’s early in the session,” he said. “I have hope that the facts will come through, that people will wake up and realize that the facts and the figures are there. This is not changing course (on tax reform). It’s another tool in the toolbox to try to move forward with economic development.”

The House measure would offer state tax credits for the restoration of historic income-producing and non-income-producing projects. The amount of the credits would be based on the type of project, the cost and the development tier where the project takes place.

Supporters said the credits would help revitalize rural towns across the state hit hard by closures of mills and manufacturing companies the past couple of decades. The program, they said, would spur developers to consider renovating buildings that otherwise would be demolished. It is a scaled-back version of the historic rehabilitation tax credit the General Assembly allowed to expire at the end of 2014.