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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Peoria could see millions of dollars in historic preservation tax credits


By Angela Underwood | Jun 11, 2018

Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard)

A $15 million historic preservation tax credit could turn Peoria and River Edge communities around, according to one state House member. 

SB 3527, sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), creates a 25 percent income tax credit for any taxpayer who is willing to restore some of the oldest parts of the city, which, according to the bill's backer, has been discussed for years.

“We have been able to see what tax credits have done in other states by taking old buildings and refurbishing them,” Gordon-Booth said during a House floor debate.

Rep. Michael Unes (R-East Peoria)

The bill would mandate that local or state government edifices are restored first. The bill would also authorize the use of vacant lots to fund tax rolls, according to Gordon-Booth. 

"It will create local business and job opportunities, and a renewed hope that a community like mine so desperately needs to see,” she said. 

Opening herself up for questions, Gordon-Booth first responded to Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard), who came right out and asked if the tax credit was worth $15 million.

“That would be yes,” Gordon-Booth said.

After bringing up how the $15 million line item was not included in the budget presented to House members, Breen discussed the Taxpayer Federation of Illinois (TFI) and the Department of Revenue's (DOR) opposition.

“You changed the time frame for the carry forward from five years to ten years, and you also have taken out the requirements for prevailing wage," Breen detailed before asking Gordon-Booth about the TFI's opposition.

“TFI opposes everything,” she said.

Gordon-Booth reminded Breen how preferred areas, including Peoria, Elgin, Rockford and East St. Louis, will also benefit from the tax credit, which she called a “middle-of-the-road” compromise between the parties.

“There were a lot of areas [that] members on your side of the aisle had issues with,” Gordon-Booth said of the carry forward clause. “The other issue [that] many members of your side of the aisle brought up was prevailing wage being a precursor [for] being able to move forward.” 

But the bottom line was that the bill was questionable, according to Breen. 

“You have heard the details," Breen said to his colleagues on the House floor. "This is your call."

Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) first acknowledged Gordon-Booth’s good-faith efforts to work with GOP lawmakers. 

“Prevailing wage was a concern for us, and prevailing wage was taken out,” Harris said. “She initially came in with a 20-year carry forward, and she came back with a 10-year carry forward.”

Though responsive to GOP concerns, Harris highlighted the Department of Revenue's sole opposition to the 10-year carry forward. 

“But let me tell you, their opposition was tepid at best,” Harris said.

In conclusion, Harris said that although the $15 million was not appropriated in the budget, the tax credits could spur some growth in the future. 

“The River Edge changes are needed in (Gordon-Booth’s) area, and I strongly encourage a 'yes vote',” Harris said.

At the end of the day if lawmakers want job growth, they have to put their money where their mouth is, Gordon-Booth said. 

SB 3527 passed 101-11, and the Senate concurred 51-0 later that day. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner this summer.

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