Main Street director warns tax credits could disappear

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


When Main Street Washington director Sarah Grunewaldt approached the Washington City Council Tuesday evening regarding the city?s holiday celebration this year, she also told them about an issue she believes could damage or destroy several pending projects in Washington.

Grunewaldt said that on both the national and state levels, historic tax credits were in danger of being removed from the budget. She said the credits are ?valuable tools? that communities have used to renovate historic buildings. She said the projects that use the tax credits are difficult to develop in general and the credits give an added incentive to make the projects move forward.

?The administration has said we need to do tax reform,? she said. ?The House and Senate have said we need to deal with this and it is something that is a problem.?

She said several allegations have been made against tax credits, including the system is too complicated and that the federal government is giving back too much monety to local communities. She said the current proposed tax plan, which is with the House Ways and Means Committee, eliminates most tax credits.

The tax credits are given as an incentive to preserve historic buildings. Credits are given at both the national and state levels. Grunewaldt commented that the credits actually return more money to the treasury than it costs. According to a study done by the National Park Service, since its inception $25.2 billion in tax credits have generated $29.8 billion in federal tax revenues. She also said since its inception, the program has attracted $131 billion in private capital to revitalize properties.

?It is the only federal tax credit on the books that actually pays out less than it brings back in afterward,? she said. ?By doing these projects you are putting these buildings into more service and ultimately there is more income tax coming back in at the federal elvel because those projects happened than if those buildings sat vacant.?

So far, Grunewaldt said, only one project using federal historic tax credits has been done in Washington, which is the revitalization of the State Theatre. She said she is working on several other projects she promises ?will not happen? without the credits. She said these include possible future redevelopment of the former Captain?s Table building, or the former calendar factory or the former Goncho Apartment building. She also said there are other historic buildings in Washington that can be rehabilitated. She said the entire downtown is classified as a historic district. She also said over 40 percent of projects financed by tax credits are located in communities with less than 25,000 people.

Grunewaldt said the credits help developers fund projects that would otherwise not get done. She encourages people who want to see continued growth and development, as well as the preservation of older buildings, to contact their legislators. She said Congressman Rod Blum is leading the charge to keep tax credits in the budget. She also said state historic tax credits are important and used often in Washington.

She also said Rep. Dave Heaton has long been a champion of historic tax credits.


Contact local representatives at:


Congressman Rod Blum?s District Office

Phone: (319) 364-2288


Congressman Dave Loebsack?s district office

Phone: (319) 351-0789


Iowa Rep. Jarad Klein

Home: (641) 636.2082


Iowa Rep. Dave Heaton

Home Phone: 319-385-9342

Capitol Phone: 515.281.3221


Iowa Sen. Kevin Kinney

Home phone: 319-631-4667

Capital phone: 515-281-3371


Iowa Sen. Rich Taylor

Statehouse: (515-281-3371)

home: (319-931-1568).

E-mail: or