Education Editorial: Historic Tax Credits

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In an environment where political gridlock is a daily story, unemployment is at critical levels, and federal, state, local, and personal budgets are seemingly on the brink of disaster, suppose that there was a potential public policy that could generate bipartisan political support, create jobs, save money…and preserve history.

Politico recently ran an op-ed piece about the proposed Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act of 2011. The Federal legislation patrons are Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Joining them in the op ed were House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Governor McDonnell as well as Senate candidates and former Governors George Allen and Tim Kaine.

WOW…and this is the way that things should work. 1986 Federal legislation allows historic tax credits to be used to renovate an old school building to be condos but not a school.

Footnote: The Maggie Walker and Appomattox Governor's schools used tax credits but under a finely crafted interpretation that a school owned by one district was "changing" its use when it became a regional facility.

Presently, Virginia law permits a school renovation to use historic tax credits if owned or leased privately for some period. Translated, if Freeman or Highland Springs in Henrico/Meadowbrook or Thomas Dale in Chesterfield had used state tax credits, after expenses the counties could have gotten a check for about 20% of the costs…millions!

This legislation is not a perfect storm…but in aviation lingo, a "severe clear"!

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.