Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Tax credit is critical

The Minden Downtown Development/Minden Main Street Commission needs help from local residents in securing funding for restoration projects.

During a recent meeting, the commission voted to support the extension of the State Commercial Tax Credit Program of the State of Louisiana.

"This affects commercial and residential areas in Minden, " said Pattie Odom, Director of Downtown Development/Minden Main Street. "All of the work we're doing to rehabilitate downtown Minden depends on keeping these tax credits. If it's discontinued, we may as well give up and walk away."

For eight years now, the tax (also known as the Historic Tax Credit Act) has aided in transforming dilapidated structures into productive historic buildings.

It also assists in cleaning up neighborhoods, creating jobs, stimulating tourism, preserving Louisiana's special Culture and History and significantly increasing the tax base.

The tax credit is set to end at the end of this year.

Louisiana is one of 31 states to offer a Commercial Historic Tax Credit. The 25 percent tax credit was first enacted in 2002. Now, downtown development groups and other interested parties all over the state are asking for an additional four-year extension.

According to the Downtown Development Coalition, older buildings, especially those that have been vacant for some time, are expensive to rehabilitate and put back into use. Without the tax credit, many developers would walk away from proposed projects due to the cost and leave those buildings unused. Vacant buildings generate no jobs, no sales taxes, and little property taxes and are a burden on the municipality that has to secure them for health and safety reasons. Vacant buildings are magnets for transients, trash and deterioration, and negatively impact the value of surrounding properties.

"People in the community should know and care about this because it affects us all," Odom said. "We need our elected officials to know we all support this tax credit because it's good for our whole community."

Realtors and brokers who sell the buildings, mortgage brokers and banks who help put the deals together, building owners, cities, parishes, the school board and all entities that receive taxes and benefits from renovated buildings, the Downtown Development Authorities, Cultural Districts and Chambers of Commerce that are trying to spur economic and cultural development and citizens that are denied the jobs and opportunities that come with renovated properties will all be affected if the tax credit does not get reinstated.

The program has already generated $651.13 million in historic restoration construction at the cost of $140.59 million in tax credits. From construction and operations of the projects supported by the tax credit, a total of $142.51 million in new state tax revenue was created.

The construction and operation of the projects supported by the tax credit created a total of $104.76 million in new tax revenue for local governments and for every dollar the state invested in the program, it has or will collect $3.22 in new tax collections, measured in 2011 dollars.

The coalition said the bills that support the extension of the tax credit program have broad-based bi-partisan, geographically diverse support because the program provides critical funding for communities, large and small. In addition, restoration of Historic Structures preserves the unique architecture and culture of our state.

Odom added that Mississippi has enacted a very similar tax credit law and if Louisiana does not extend its Historic Tax Credit, it won't be able to compete with other states.

"We need this to continue downtown development, to bring in jobs and revenue for the city and to keep Louisiana competitive with other states," Odom said.






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