Wednesday, March 24, 2010

GaPA Thursday


As we previously reported, National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week was held during the first week of March in Washington, D.C.
Below is a report by Amanda Schraner and Dr. Dave Crass of the Historic Preservation Division. Our thanks to them and others attending from Georgia, including Kathy Ledvina and Drane Wilkinson, for participating and reporting back on the week's events.

GaPA would also like to thank Representatives Hank Johnson (GA-04) and David Scott (GA-13) for signing on to the "Dear Colleague" letter to the Appropriations Committee last week. This important letter requests funding of Historic Preservation Programs like Save America's Treasures, Preserve America, and State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. Read the latest news about efforts for full funding here. If you Took Action by asking these representatives to support the letter, please contact them and thank them for recognizing the importance of funding preservation.

And now, a report from National Preservation Advocacy Week:

by Amanda Schraner, Transportation Projects Coordinator, and Dr. Dave Crass, Division Director

National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week was held the week of March 1st, 2010 in Washington D.C. Dr. Dave Crass and Amanda Schraner attended representing
HPD. Advocacy Week was held concurrently with meetings of the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, National Historic Tax Credit Conference, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Preservation Action.

Day one of activities included federal agency updates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Park Service (NPS), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Department of Energy (DOE), and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). A plenary session focused discussions on current legislative issues.

Day two of Advocacy Week was the big day: the visits to Capitol Hill. Preservation Action compiled a “Grassroots Guide to Congress” as a primer for legislative issues to be discussed with members of Congress on the Hill. There are a number of preservation-related legislative issues that are pertinent for discussion with congressional representatives this year. These include:

  • increasing funding for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) to $50 million for the operation of State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs);
  • providing full funding to the HPF; in 1980, Congress authorized $150 million to be deposited in the HPF from funding received through offshore oil and gas lease revenue from the outer-continental shelf, but Congress has never appropriated that amount;
  • restoring funding to Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, which are eliminated in the President’s FY2011 budget;
  • increasing funding to Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs);
  • supporting new legislation that promotes energy efficiency retrofits for historic and older buildings;
  • supporting historic preservation within a reauthorized transportation bill, including maintaining funding through Transportation Enhancement (TE) grants;
  • supporting amendments to the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program.

We visited the offices of those members belonging to the Historic Preservation Caucus. These included John Barrow, District 12; Phil Gingrey, District 11; John Lewis, District 5; Jim Marshall, District 8, Hank Johnson, District 4, and David Scott, District 13.

We focused our discussions on proposed enhancements to the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program in visits to Capitol Hill contained in two bills. H.R. 3715/S. 1743, The Community Restoration and Revitalization Act, is a bill that would increase the federal rehabilitation tax credit to 30% for “small” commercial projects of $5 million or less and would increase the credit for achieving energy efficiency improvements. H.R. 3670, the Historic Homeowners Revitalization Act, would allow homeowners of historic houses to get a federal tax credit of 20% of costs for qualified rehabilitation activities.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation held a news conference during the congressional visits to release the First Annual Report on the Economic Impact of the Federal Historic Tax Credit. This study, developed by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, meticulously documents the positive effect the program has had on the nation’s economy. In federal fiscal year 2008 alone, for instance, $3.6 billion in private capital invested in historic rehabilitation resulted in the creation of 58,000 jobs (The Report
).

Day three of consisted of the National Conference of State Historic Officers (NCSHPO) Annual Meeting. The format of the meeting included discussion of national items of interest, as well as an opportunity for each state to talk briefly about its current situation. We spoke on the recent reorganization of HPD, which elicited interest from several other state offices, as well as the new Ranch House context that Dr. Richard Cloues helped develop with partners including the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Transmission Corporation.

During the discussions it was quite evident that with a few notable exceptions, every SHPO is in the same financial boat. Some, such as California and New York, face extremely daunting challenges. This makes economic impact studies like the one commissioned by the National Trust all the more important to the continued viability of the national preservation program. Several state historic preservation offices have tracked the economic impact of their activities. Having this information at hand is increasingly critical as policy-makers assess the effectiveness of a wide range of programs. HPD's Mary Ann Eaddy is developing the outlines of such a study here in Georgia; we have a good economic story to tell and we need the data to support that. Look for more on HPD’s economic impact study later this calendar year.

TAKE ACTION!!

For more information about GaPA, contact Kate Ryan, Programs Manger at The Georgia Trust, at kryan@georgiatrust.org

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