In Mebane, McCrory, Kluttz tout historic tax credits

Pulling out a map of North Carolina covered in small dots, N.C. Rep. Steve Ross said this was the impact of historic tax credits throughout the land of the long leaf pine.

“I understand my colleagues’ desire to eliminate tax credits, but I have to say I believe in the historic tax credits because I have seen what it does in this community,” Ross, R-Alamance, said Monday afternoon on the steps of the Burlington municipal building.

Ross recently introduced a bill to restore the credits, which were allowed to expire at the end of 2014. He was joined by Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz during various tours of properties that benefited from the credits throughout Alamance County.

THE TOUR BEGAN at Mebane city hall, where McCrory and Kluttz both urged the General Assembly to approve Ross’ bill to bring back the Historic Preservation Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

“We are here today because we have a crisis,” Kluttz said. “And that crisis is the fact that the historic tax credits were allowed to sunset at the end of the year, and we have got to get them back. That is why that is so important.”

Bringing back these tax credits is immensely important, McCrory said, because they bring jobs, they preserve and revitalize North Carolina’s history, and they promote travel and tourism.

“This is a grass-roots effort,” he said. “This is a grass-roots effort to continue the Carolina comeback that we have had in the past two years of bringing jobs and growing jobs in North Carolina. And the best way to grow jobs is to grow jobs on Main Street. And this is the revitalization of Main Street, and if your Main Street is full of blighted buildings and decay, it shows a sign of weakness to the entire region.”

Kluttz, McCrory and other community leaders toured the Mebane Mill Loft Apartments and the White Furniture Building, both of which received assistance from the historic tax credits.

KLUTTZ AND OTHER community leaders continued the county tour without the governor, stopping for lunch in Saxapahaw — complimenting the recently refurbished loft apartments and homemade General Store banana pudding — before taking a bus tour of homes in Burlington and the Glencoe Mill Village.

One stop was a home on West Davis Street that was one of the last residential projects to take advantage of the tax credit before it expired in December.

“We purchased the property in early December and found out it was eligible for a credit, so we quickly got it closed,” homeowner Brady Goforth said. “We definitely could use (the credits) moving forward.”

In between photo-taking and touring the home, Kluttz said it was these types of projects that made an impact and helped people understand the significance of the credits.

“We want to make sure this story gets told,” she said. “You’re doing a great thing for this neighborhood, for this city and for North Carolina.”

At Glencoe Mill Village, Kluttz said she was impressed by the repurposed mill buildings and mill homes that dotted the streets.

SINCE 1998, THE Historic Preservation Rehabilitation Tax Credits have contributed to more than 40 projects within Alamance County, including six completed projects with a total investment of more than $22 million.

Ross’ bill, H.B. 152, has 65 co-sponsors in the House as of Monday afternoon, but it appears to face a steeper hurdle in the senate. Only six senators have signed on to the senate’s corresponding bill.

With updating North Carolina’s tax system, Ross said, he understood the desire to dismantle many of the tax credits, but that the historic tax credit was an outlier that, under his proposal, would not require an upfront investment from the state.

Previously, commercial properties could have received a credit of 20 percent, mills could receive anywhere from a 30 to 40 percent credit, and residential projects could receive a 30 percent credit. Under Ross’ proposal, residential is reduced to 15 percent and with a $150,000 cap. Commercial and mill properties are combined to an income-producing category that’s capped at 15 percent, but 5 percent can be added for mills and/or 5 percent for economically distressed counties.

STATE SEN. RICK Gunn, R-Alamance, said he’s not opposed to historic tax credits and that he was “glad to see Ross file that bill, and it has a lot of merit.”

“I think that the historic tax credits have a role in economic development,” Gunn said. “I tend to lean more on the investment/development side than I do residential side. The emphasis needs to be on the economic development (and) job creating side on the historic tax credits.”

Kluttz encouraged community leaders to contact their representatives, educate their peers and sign a petition at www.historictaxcredits.org because the state shouldn’t “wipe everything good about North Carolina just for tax reform.”

“As I make you aware of what is happening in your community, I want you to contact your legislators,” Kluttz said. “Particularly in the Senate. Please contact them and let them know that this is urgent. It is urgent for Mebane, it’s urgent for Alamance County and it is urgent for North Carolina. The problem that we have run into in Raleigh is, frankly, one of philosophy. We haven’t run into anybody who will say, ‘These aren’t good things.’ But it is a philosophy of doing away with tax credits and doing away with all tax credits. This is an exception.”

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