New York state's current system for handing out Historic Tax Credits excludes more than 1,300 otherwise eligible homes in Buffalo. Assemblyman Sean Ryan says, it's an error that needs to be fixed.
Ryan says a homeowner's eligibility for the state's Historic Tax Credit program depends on the census tract the property's located in. But, he says, census tracts are arbitrary. To demonstrate his point he met with reporters, in North Buffalo, at the corner of Hertel and Sterling Avenues.
"One part of the block is involved in the program. The other three parts are excluded. It's all the same neighborhood. But it's really just who's attached to what part of the census tract," Ryan said.
In fact, all but three census tracts, in Buffalo, qualify for Historic Tax Credits which, Ryan says, makes it confusing.
"I've had the unfortunate episode of people calling the office, who have spent $60,000 - $80,000 in home repairs, believing they were eligible, only to be told they weren't eligible. And, they thought they were eligible, because there are people on the other side of the street were eligible," Ryan said.
So the Buffalo Democrat is pushing a bill that would give upstate cities blanket access to Historic Tax Credits. Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director, Jessie Fisher says, in Western New York alone, the program's led to over a half billion dollars worth of investment - mostly in small businesses and homes - which Fisher says, benefits the community.
"Every million dollars spent rehabbing properties results in 38 jobs and results in over $200,000.00 in state and local tax receipts. So the net impact on our communities, the net impact on jobs, and the net impact on having that financial public resources to care for our communities is impacted very positively," Fisher said.
Ryan says, blanket access for Historic Tax Credits is a quick fix that will apply to less than 2,000 homes across the state - so it won't have a big impact on the budget. He says, the proposed bill is more about recognizing an error and fixing it.