Politics & Government

NC historic tax credits face resistance

North Carolina’s Historic Preservation Tax Credits, which expire next month, face an uphill climb in the General Assembly despite the support of the governor and the man expected to be the next House speaker.

State officials say the credits have leveraged nearly $1.5 billion in private investments in North Carolina since 1998, including the conversion of several Charlotte textile mills.

The credits expire Jan. 1.

“I would either bring that back or some other mechanism to encourage historic preservation,” said Republican Rep. Tim Moore, expected to be elected speaker next month.

Moore cited several projects in his hometown of Kings Mountain that have benefited from the credits. “I could start rattling off cities” that have renovated historic areas with the help of credits, he added.

In Mecklenburg County, nearly 300 projects worth more than $166 million have benefited from the preservation tax credits, which range from 20 percent for commercial projects and 30 percent for many others. (The credits reduce tax liability for the amount of the credit.)

Beneficiaries included everything from private homes to the historic Highland Mill in NoDa, renovated for residential use.

On Thursday, Gov. Pat McCrory told the N.C. League of Municipalities to help him restore the credit.

“We have to get the historic tax credit back,” he said.

Last year, his budget would have altered the amount of credits depending on the project. And he would have capped the total cost to the state at $20 million.

But hopes of extending the program will meet resistance in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Rockingham County Republican, has suggested an extension is unlikely, given the tax changes lawmakers passed last session.

“In some respects, re-instituting that credit or some other credits that have been allowed to expire is inconsistent with the policy we went forward with,” Berger told Raleigh’s Insider.

McCrory told municipal officials that restoration of the credit had little to do with last year’s broader tax changes.

But Republican Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, is no fan of the credits. He said the state should focus on spending priorities such as Medicaid, education and courts.

“The question is should the state of North Carolina be in the business of doing historic tax credits?” he said Friday, “And in the list of priorities, I don’t think that’s top priorty for us. That’s not the best way to deliver economic growth and jobs.”

He said local governments, not the state, could offer the credits.