Update: Crisis Averted!
The Mississippi State Historic Tax Credit had been reauthorized through December 31, 2017. Please be sure to thank your state elected officials for giving us this tremendously effective tool to make historic preservation happen in Mississippi.
Historic preservationists had every reason to feel sanguine about the reauthorization of the Mississippi Historic Tax Credit during this legislative session. This popular and effective tool for historic preservation has benefitted projects large and small across the state since being adopted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It was introduced by Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn and passed the house unanimously, only to die an ignominious death in the Senate Finance Committee on March 4.
As speculation began to spread, it was hard to find out what exactly went wrong. Calls and emails to Governor Phil Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Joey Fillingane went flying. Senator Fillingane, in defending the decision to allow the measure to die in committee, is reported to have said that he had not heard from anyone either for or against the measure. Well, I think it is safe to say he has heard about it now. Senator Fillingane hails from Hattiesburg, which is the poster child for the benefits of the state historic tax credit. The current downtown renaissance taking place there, with projects like the America Building and the Carter Building, is an inspiration to communities across the state.
Uncertainty is the death-knell to development. Todd Sanders, Tax Incentive Coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, says he has been besieged with calls about this issue from developers with potential tax credit projects from Vicksburg to Gulfport, where the redevelopment of the Veteran’s Administration complex is just about to get underway. For someone like John McClure, Director of Community Development for the city of Meridian and champion for the restoration of the Threefoot Building, the news about the loss of the state historic tax credit was a severe blow to efforts to find a development partner for this architectural masterpiece, which has been listed as one of Mississippi’s and the nation’s most endangered historic places.
As of now, House Bill 1436 is still being reported as “dead in committee”, but the word on the street is that there is hope for a revival. The key elected officials listed below, many of whom are known to be ardent supporters of historic preservation, are actively trying to find a resolution for this issue. Given the fact that this happened in the first place, a call, email or, if possible, a sincere ear-chewing session at the next Rotary meeting with your favorite state legislator would not be amiss. If you are a developer, with dreams of restoring a grand historic building to its glory days, call these folks. If you are a historic homeowner, facing the expense of a new roof to keep your architectural treasure in good shape, call these folks. If, like me, you just hope to have a cocktail in the lobby of the Markham Hotel one day, call these folks, thank them for their efforts to find a solution and let them know that Mississippians love their old buildings.
Governor Phil Bryant
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves
Senate Finance Committee
Joey Fillingane, Chair
Dean Kirby, Vice-Chair
Kelvin E. Butler
Lydia Graves Chassaniol
Deborah Jeanne Dawkins
Kenneth Wayne Jones
Rita Potts Parks
John A. Polk
Derrick T. Simmons
For more information about state and federal historic tax credits, please visit the Mississippi Department of Archives and History website, http://mdah.state.ms.us/new/preserve/tax-credits/.
For a overview of the economic benefits of historic tax credits, please pursue this fact sheet put together by the great folks at Balch and Bingham:
Categories: Historic Preservation