Monday, January 30, 2017

Missouri Historic Tax Credits Threatened with Elimination

An RFT story from January 1995 documenting the impending demolition of the Ambassador Theater Building in Downtown St. Louis (3 years before Missouri Historic Tax Credits began).

According to the Historic Alliance for Missouri, state Senator Andrew Koenig is sponsoring the “Corporate Welfare Elimination Act”, which would essentially shut down the Missouri Department of Economic Development in a misguided and ill-informed matter of “principle”: SB226 prohibits the transfer, sale, or assignment of tax credits under two dozen current programs including the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Brownfield Tax Credits. 

Senator Koenig zealously opposes state government participation in economic development planning, subsidy, investment, or competition for new business with other states. He erroneously includes the Missouri State Historic Tax Credit program in the same category as subsidies. In fact, the Missouri Tax Credit program is a profit center for the State of Missouri, bringing in more tax revenues that it costs. The Missouri Growth Association has documented that since its inception in 1998, the Missouri Historic Historic Preservation Tax Credit has produced $8.2 billion in direct economic development in Missouri and more than 40,000 jobs.

What is at stake if Missouri eliminates Historic Tax Credits? 

Quite simply, rehabilitation projects become far less feasible to financially work, which means empty historic buildings will continue to sit abandoned and many will end up being demolished sharing the fate of Ambassador Theater Building. The Ambassador and several other notable National Register buildings were demolished in the 1990's prior to the enactment of the Missouri Historic Preservation Tax Credit. If the program had begun a few years earlier, these landmarks would still be here today. Killing the program would return Missouri to the not-so-good old days.

So what can you do?

If you are able to, please attend Preservation Day at the Missouri State Capitol this Wednesday, February 1st from 9 AM - 4 PM. Join with several preservation organizations across the state for an annual gathering at the capitol to let Missouri State Representatives and Senators know face to face how important the Missouri Historic Preservation Tax Credit is to our states economy! Even if you can only attend for a few hours, visiting your lawmakers in person can be extremely effective.

Call some Senators:

If you cannot attend in person, Please take a half an hour out of your day on Wednesday to make some phone calls to Missouri Senators and urge them to defeat SB226 or any other bill that would eliminate or significantly cut the Missouri Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Here is a phone directory for all Missouri Senators and here is a district map. Prioritizing calls to Republican Senators in rural areas is advised.