On Nov. 16, the U.S. House passed its tax reform bill. During the very early hours of Dec. 2, Senate passed its version too.
Neither of these bills ought to be signed into law by our president, but the one that passed the House is particularly dangerous to our community here in the Quad-Cities.
Included in the House tax reform bill was the elimination of Historic Tax Credits (HTCs). Since their establishment in 1976, HTCs have created 2.4 million good-paying local jobs, leveraged $131.8 billion in private investments for communities across the US, generated $29.8 billion in federal tax revenue and preserved 42,293 buildings that form the historic fabric of our nation.
Locally, HTCs have been used in several projects; most recently as part of the $10 million Best/VanDerGinst Building development project between Saratoga Capital Group and the city of Rock Island.
These credits are also important enough that the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce — while officially remaining neutral on the tax bills — has called for the protection of these tax credits.
Unfortunately, House Republicans that voted for the reform bill would rather give tax breaks to billionaires than continue a proven successful development tool that directly benefits our Quad-Cities communities.
While campaigning for Rock Island’s 5th Ward alderman seat, I was frequently asked how I would support economic growth in our downtown. While the issues facing our downtown are multifaceted and no single solution will ensure prosperity, I consistently advocated to have our downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
If done, development projects performed on historic properties anywhere within our downtown district would be eligible for a 20 percent federal tax credit — the very credits that House Republicans voted to cut.
After getting elected, I continued to push that it be our current council’s official policy to obtain National Register of Historic Places status for our downtown and have worked with staff to embark on the slow and exhaustive process for such an application.
As alderman, I am also often reminded of the economic growth of downtown Davenport or Moline. Contrasting downtown Davenport, Moline and Rock Island is often neither fair nor constructive, but one anecdotal demonstration of the success of HTCs is that Davenport and Moline both have their downtowns listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, therefore, have been able to offer developers that 20 percent federal tax credit to develop their downtowns.
None of this, however, seems to matter to House Republicans. The successes of downtown Davenport or Moline and the push by Rock Island to join them in bolstering downtowns apparently does not seem worthwhile to continue for our U.S. House.
HTCs should be a non-partisan issue; I do not write this as a Democrat, Republican or any other political party — I write this as a citizen of Rock Island concerned about my community’s ability to grow into the future.
There is no reason both parties should not support these credits. We do have hope, however, in the U.S. Senate. Their version of the tax reform bill did not eliminate HTC, but nothing is certain yet.
We wait to see what comes out of the joint House-Senate Conference to deliberate differences between these bills. Hopefully, for the sake of our downtowns, HTCs will be included in whatever bill makes it through the congressional conference committee.
I will, as alderman, continue to push for tools to aid development in downtown Rock Island.
Source : http://qconline.com/opinion/columnists/why-q-c-needs-historic-tax-credits/article_f61e6f66-b385-527a-a72c-557cbe8ad715.html