Markell wants to extend historic preservation tax credit

    The state’s historic preservation tax credit is designed to preserve older buildings and create jobs.

    As part of an effort to save historic buildings in the state and encourage job creation, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) wants to extend a tax credit program created in 2001.  The program is set to expire at the end of June.

    Markell announced the effort to continue the program during an event in front of the historic Queen Theater that is undergoing a $25 million renovation.  The effort to fix up the facility, which was built in 1873, benefits from $4.5 million in state tax credits through the preservation program.  Markell says, “About 2,400 jobs over the last decade have been created as a result of this tax credit, again, mainly in the construction and related trades.”  He says, “Every $5 million worth of tax credits translates into 350 to 400 jobs, and this administration, we have got to be, every single day, all about what we can do to create jobs.”

    Wilmington Mayor Jim Baker (D) says a number of preservation projects stopped after a similar federal tax credit program came to an end.  “It immediately stopped projects all across  the country in older cities that had older units of houses, so this is very, very important to us,” Baker said.

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    Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock says the Queen Theater in Wilmington isn’t the only building that is taking advantage of the tax credit.  He says similar projects are taking place all over the state, “Other buildings in Wilmington, and buildings in Dover and in Sussex County, and throughout our state similarly owe their being rehabilitated to these tax credits.”

    Bullock says it’s an economic decision whether to continue the program, especially during tough times, “Tax credits aren’t free.  They call them credits for a reason, they come right off the bottom line, and in this case, the bottom line of our bank franchise tax.”  Markell says in making that decision, it’s important to recognize what the purpose of government is, “It’s really to facilitate the success of business.”  He says, “In my mind, this project is about two things.  It’s about preserving history, and it’s about preserving and creating jobs.”

    The General Assembly could consider the extension when their session resumes later this month.

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