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Bill would expand state’s historic preservation tax credit

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A bill that was killed last year after passing the Indiana House has been revived this session in hopes of expanding the state’s historic preservation tax credit.

Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, said the bill is all about economic and job development.

He said Indiana has too many historic buildings left abandoned that could be renovated into something useful. That’s why Indiana Landmarks — a not-for-profit preservation group — supports the bill.

The organization’s lobbyist, Amy Levander, also said that sometimes renovating just one historic building can have a positive effect on an entire town.

“This ranges from our smallest towns to our largest cities,” Clere said. “Every town has these buildings and this is a bill that offers something for every community.”

Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, has said while Indiana is one of about 30 states that has a historical preservation tax credit, Indiana’s cap is one of the lowest.

“It is the least effective of all the 30-some programs in the country like it,” Davis said last year, during an earlier debate about the legislation. “And the reason is the annual allocation cap is very low. I mean most states that have caps at all are in the tens of millions, if not more.”

According to Indiana Landmarks, tax credits work in the following way: 20 percent of what a property owner spends to rehabilitate a historic, income-producing property comes off the bottom line of the taxes paid to the state and federal governments. There are restrictions and guidelines that limit the type of buildings and renovations the tax credit program covers.

Currently, the credit is backlogged because the tax credit caps at $450,000 per year. That means some projects approved for the program have been completed but can’t claim the tax credit for at least a dozen years. Supporters of  a program expansion say that gives few incentives for investors to restore historic properties, especially since many of them are private developers.

“I have talked to developers around the state who can be just an individual who has an interest in their town,” Levander said.

Last year, the House approved a bill to significantly expand the program. But the Senate changed it so dramatically that Clere, the author, killed the bill.

This year, a House committee amended similar language into a Senate bill. “I’m excited we’ve found a new home for the language of the bill,” Clere said.

The new bill — Senate Bill 4 — is now headed to the Ways and Means Committee, where it is expected to be considered next week.  The bill would increase the current $450,000 annual cap on tax credits to $2 million the first year and increase the cap gradually to $10 million by 2017.

“We’re trying to increase the annual cap and revise and update a number of other features to make it more functional and useful,” Clere said.

Most of the money would be used for projects approved after June 30. The bill would assign $450,000 per year in funding to take care of the backlog of credits.

Clere said he has no intention of giving up on the bill if it doesn’t pass this session. “One way or another we’re going to make this happen,” he said. “It’s just too important for Indiana to let it die.”

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  • Preservation is Key
    Fort Harrison on Indy's NE side is a perfect example of what historic preservation is all about and it continues to thrive. Mass Ave was a bunch of old empty buildings several years ago and look at that area now !!! The old buildings provide a sense of history, stability and community.

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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