Historic tax credit bill passes

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate, during this week’s special session of the Legislature, passed House Bill 203 to increase the State Historic Tax Credit from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Gov. Jim Justice placed the bill on the Special Session agenda after consultation with legislative leadership and interested parties.

The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, Abandoned Properties Coalition, US Green Building Council, W.Va. Chapter, W.Va. Community Development Hub, Wheeling Heritage, private developers, citizens, and municipalities joined together to create the Revitalize West Virginia Downtown Coalition.

That coalition developed a plan to increase the state historic tax credit to aid in economic development of the state and educate legislators on the importance of the historic rehabilitation tax credit.

Danielle LaPresta, executive director of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, said, “I am pleased that the Governor and legislature saw the potential of the historic tax credit to serve as a catalyst to revitalize West Virginia. This program will spark economic development throughout the state regardless of the size of the community.”

The governor is a strong ally of historic preservation in West Virginia, LaPresta said.

The 25 percent credit brings West Virginia to parity with neighboring states. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia have a 25 percent state historic tax credit; Maryland and Kentucky have a 20 percent tax credit. This increase will encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings and spur private investment, create jobs, and help rid the state of vacant and underutilized buildings. Studies have shown that the estimated return on the state’s investment is approximately 2:1. This means for every dollar of tax credit provided by the state, two dollars of additional state taxes and revenue will be created through investments.

Renee Kuhlman, director of Policy Outreach, Government Relations and Policy from the National Trust for Historic Preservation said, “With these improvements, state legislators are putting West Virginia’s heritage to work and encouraging investors to bring their dollars to the Mountaineer State. States that have improved their historic tax credits have doubled the use of the federal historic tax credit and have seen construction jobs increase because renovation is labor intensive.”

The Legislature passed the legislation with overwhelming support in both houses.

Mike Gioulis, PAWV Advocacy chairperson, speaking for the coalition, said: “The coalition would like to thank all of the legislators that voted in favor of the bill, including the sponsors, Speaker Tim Armstead, R, Kanawha, and Tim Miley, D, Harrison. We appreciate that Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R, Ohio, and Senator Glenn Jeffries, D, Putnam, spoke in favor of the bill. We also would like to thank Chairman Eric Nelson, Jr., R, Kanawha, for his leadership on this issue.”

The group also values the support and leadership of Justice as well as his staff. The West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office is developing standards and procedures to educate and promote the program to the public.

For more information relating to the historic tax credit program, contact Jennifer Brennan, State Historic Tax Credit Coordinator at 304-558-0240.

For additional information regarding this effort, contact the Preservation Alliance of WV Advocacy Chairman Mike Gioulis at 304-545-4881, or visit www.pawv.org and www.revitalizewvdowntowns.com.

— By the West Virginia Press Association

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