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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Small Town Missouri Needs the Historic Tax Credit

The last time that I drove back from Jefferson City on Highway 94, I snapped this photograph of a historic store building in Tebbetts, Missouri. Who wants to be that this building will still be standing in ten years if Missouri greatly caps the state historic rehabilitation tax credit?

The real reason that Missouri senators should oppose the cap on historic tax credits proposed by Senator Brad Lager (R) is not because St. Louis' "tall hogs" are hungry. The reason is because small towns across this state have only started figuring out how to use the tax credit to save their heritage and bring economic development to Main Street. In the past five years there has been a spate of tax credit activity outside of St. Louis and Kansas City. It's not nearly as much as the activity in those big cities, but it will never grow if the credit is capped.

If the credit is capped, and the credit run through an appropriations process, issuance of the credit will become a political process. Currently, all one needs is a completed project and the right forms filled out -- do the work, get the credit. A cap and appropriation will benefit the big developers who can afford to gain influence and work at getting credits full time. The Lager cap would end up benefiting those who are already good at using the credit (big cities) and stunt the growth of tax credit activity in small towns across Missouri.

I am a St. Louisan who knows this building in Tebbetts needs the historic tax credit just as much as the Mullanphy Emigrant Home, or houses in Benton Park. We can't write off the rest of the state. Ironically, Lager's proposal might do just that. Rural areas are always at a disadvantage when it comes to economic development. The historic tax credit is the antidote, and with time and training -- would Lager support a state-funded tax credit training program? -- the small towns will use this credit to remake themselves. All of the Lager changes work against small towns trying to survive, and play right into the hands of politically-connected developers.


GMichaud said...

Did this Lager guy vote for the huge tax giveaway to Paul McKee? My guess he is a typical Republican, steal from the middle class, give to the wealthy.
In other words more of the same bullshit that has been propagated the last 8 years.
Socialism for the wealthy is still going strong though. Thirty million in stadium improvements for the Rams millionaire owners and players.
Society is collapsing, but damn, we got to help those poor millionaires.
The historic tax is one of the few programs I have seen that small scale developers and businessmen actually tap into to help make projects work.
A parallel reduction in tax credits for McKee and other wealthy giveaways should occur should Lager continue on: if not the total hypocrisy of the system will be exposed naked. Not that it hasn't been exposed already.

samizdat said...

I've spent over 25,000USD (so far; purchase price was mid-50's) on our single-story house in Dutchtown, and I will be applying for tax credits when I've had the ceiling fixture knob and tube isolated and new service installed, (can you say $$$$?) and cellulose insulaton blown into the attic space. I'm just an average guy who wants to save a little on the expenses of the job. Why do the bumpkin, rural Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy want to remove this option from Missourians? Ah, yes, I've forgotten, they HAAAATE St.Louis. Don't know why. Maybe if someone from the bumpkin areas of our state could explain. Sorry to tar everyone with the same brush, but the hatred for historic buildings coming from our own urban political leaders is bad enough. But it becomes compounded when the outstate folks, for no logical or sane reason, decide that somehow, KC and STL (which provide the majority of the state's revenues, BTW) must suffer for simply being here. Ya' wouldn't think such good Christians (snark) would hold such a perverse and vindictive attitude.

LisaS said...

that's exactly the point I wonder if any of their constituents are making to them. I drive through rural southern Missouri on a regular basis. I've watched as the Main Street in Willow Springs has been redeveloped, one building at a time, over the last 5 years--nice historic rehabs that I assume used tax credits. I hope that the credits will still be around so that Licking's Main Street can someday benefit. Small towns have in many ways lost more in suburbanization than the cities have.

sam, I don't think the constituents are aware of the issue. their leaders certainly are not into communication ...