Tax credits may be sought to restore Memorial Hall

Published 1:17 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012



Getting historic tax credits is the latest avenue the county commissioners want to explore in an effort to save the aging Memorial Hall.

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At its Tuesday work session the commission asked Ashland-based architect Shawn Walker and Ralph Kline of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization to come up with a sixth financing option to turn the building into an emergency operations center.

Last month the county learned it had lost the $2.5 million Maritime Securities Grant it had sought to pay the majority of the $3.7 million estimate to restore the 19th Century structure. In June Kline presented the commission with five financing plans ranging from ones that included the maritime grant, to bond issuance to a lease-payment agreement with a third party.

The county’s goal is to house the EMS, EMA, 911 dispatching and the county coroner in a renovated Memorial Hall where the interior is gutted and a new framework is placed inside.

At least one commissioner thinks that is possible with tax credits and a long-term debt if the annual payback is approximately $180,000.

“If we could get that down to $15,000 a month, it could be done,” Commission President Les Boggs said. “We set the budget and say (to officerholders) ‘don’t ask for anything more.’ This is something that has to be done. If we don’t do it, what future commissioners will do it.”

State, federal and new market tax credits are possible avenues to get a reduction in the cost of renovation. State credits could bring in 25 cents on the dollar; federal, 20 cents on the dollar; and new market, 39 cents on the dollar. The credits could be used in combination. However federal credits require the formation of a for-profit syndication.

“To be able to use the federal historic tax credits, you also have to have a tax liability,” Kline said. “You have to go through syndication.”

There is no syndication required to use state credits. Deadline for applying for the credits is in October with the awarding of them in November.

“If you go with the full syndication route, there is a time frame,” Kline said. “The longer (the building) sits the more potential for damage.”

Kline and Walker were also asked to come up with plans for stabilization of the hall now and the next phase of the renovation. They will meet with the commissioners at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at commission chambers.