Preservation Priorities for this Maryland Legislative Session

01/10/2018
By Preservation Maryland

Today marks the start of the 438th Session of the Maryland General Assembly and Preservation Maryland is poised to continue to be the voice of historic preservation in Annapolis from this day forward through the end of session. We have a full slate of priorities in support of historic tax credits, affordable housing, museums, and open space conservation.

2018 Preservation Priorities

Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit

The revitalization of Maryland communities is fueled by the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. Senator Bill Ferguson of Baltimore’s District 46 plans to introduce two pieces of legislation that will strengthen this effective community redevelopment tool.

Historic Tax Credits Work for Maryland

As of FY18, Maryland invested only $9M in the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program for the year for the entire state. By comparison, Virginia invests nearly $100M annually. Maryland is falling behind. Senator Bill Ferguson’s legislation will require the Governor to appropriate at least $15M annually for this essential program.

Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation

We recognize the research that shows that Maryland needs more affordable housing and that many of the state’s community redevelopment programs can work more efficiently to address this challenge. Senator Bill Ferguson plans to introduce legislation that will help incentivize the use of historic buildings to create affordable housing. The forthcoming bill would:

  1. Increase the state Historic Tax Credit to 25% for projects resulting in affordable housing. The reuse of historic structures is a proven way to create affordable housing and the additional credit amount would incentivize the activity.
  2. Allow the state Historic Tax Credit to be transferred outside of development partnerships. This would go a long way to offset the damaging impact the change to the federal Historic Tax Credit, that came out of recent tax reform, will have on community redevelopment.
  3. Decreases the amount to qualify as “substantial rehabilitation” to $25,000. This will make it easier for smaller Main Street-scale commercial projects to take advantage of the tax credit.

Get Involved: Preservation Maryland invites you to get involved in statewide preservation advocacy efforts by attending Maryland History Advocacy Day on Thursday, February 1, 2018 in Annapolis. We do our best to make it easy  and there is no doubt that your advocacy is essential.

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Preservation Grant Funding

All three of Maryland’s preservation grant programs, outlined below, had gone completely unfunded since FY10. Because of our advocacy, in FY18, funding was restored to the Capital and Non-Capital grant programs, but the Museum Assistance program was still left unfunded. Current funding is at starvation level. We must and will do more to support those safe-guarding our state’s rich and unique history.

Current Grant Program Funding: $800k
Total FY19 Request: $1.5M

  1. Capital Grant Program
    Current Funding: $600k
    FY19 Capital Request: $600k
    This program funded capital upgrades and repairs to certified historic structures owned by non-profits and local governments. It is operated as a competitively-awarded program with statewide reach and impact.
  2. Non-Capital Grants (Planning & Research)
    Current Funding: $200k
    FY19 Operating Request: $450k
    This program was previously funded via the state operating budget. This program awarded competitive grants for architectural and archaeological research, survey and documentation, public education, and planning projects. The program directly supported local government efforts to preserve places important to their constituents.
  3. Museum Assistance Program
    Current Funding: Unfunded since 2010
    FY19 Operating Request: $450k
    As Maryland is without a singular official state museum, the tradition has been to provide support to the state’s network of museums of all sizes via the Museum Assistance or Advancement grant program. The program was used to enhance museum exhibits, visitor facilities, and provide educational programming across the state.

Program Open Space

In 1969, the Maryland General Assembly created Program Open Space through the institution of a transfer tax of .5% on every real estate transaction in the state. Since then the program has been responsible for:

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority is funded by Program Open Space. Preservation Maryland supports full funding of Program Open Space and the Heritage Area Authority, opposes any attempts to shortcut, reduce, or cap the program in any way, and supports the repayment of previous diversions from the fund.

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