Peake: Time for tax credits

mlee@macon.comJanuary 28, 2013 

ATLANTA -- State Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, has filed the first of several tax incentive bills that he’s sponsoring or pushing.

Despite a lean state budget, tax credits will spur growth and they need to be made available to certain investors, home buyers and property developers now, he said.

His Georgia Downtown Renaissance Act would hand out up to $30 million annually in state tax credits for commercial, industrial or residential investments in Georgia’s historic downtown districts.

In Macon, that would cover an area bordered by the Ocmulgee River, Interstate 75, Little Richard Penniman Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or Seventh Street.

Peake called the act an “incubator for the backbone of Georgia’s economy: small businesses” at an Atlanta luncheon of the Georgia Municipal Association. The GMA is a lobbying and leadership education organization, counting as members 512 municipal governments. It has been advocating for the bill for several months.

Each project would be eligible for a tax credit equal to a certain percentage of its total cost. The percentages vary, but commercial projects would be capped at $500,000 and residential projects or renovations at $50,000. Separately, tax-deductible donations could be made to a fund that would finance low-interest loans for such projects.

In cities like Macon, the Renaissance credits would be another layer of tax credits that could be combined with other tax credits for building in historic areas or central business districts.

“You’re trying to create a vibrant urban core that can become the hub city of the region,” said Macon Mayor Robert Reichert. He said he expects the credits would help attract retail and maybe some light manufacturing investment.

Georgia’s budget is slowly climbing out of a pit that opened up at the start of the recession. From a high of nearly $20 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2008, tax receipts fell as low as $16.2 billion. For the year beginning in July, the figure will be something near $19 billion, and most state agencies are taking cuts of at least 3 percent.

But Peake argued that “there’s clear indication when you give tax credits, they provide a good return for the state,” even if it takes two or three years for results to show up.

State Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, represents old downtown. He supports House Bill 128 and points out that Georgia is rebuilding its rainy day fund.

“Part of smart tax policy is where we reinvest” state funds, he said. “I think it will be good for the revitalization of downtowns.”

Peake also has signed onto House Bill 81, which would extend until the end of 2015 the so-called “angel investor” tax credit. First available in 2011, it sets aside $10 million in tax credits annually for investors who buy into Georgia start-ups.

Peake said he will support upcoming bills to increase tax credits for restoring historic homes and another that would auction off tax credits to insurance companies and use the funds for venture capital investments by the state.

To contact writer Maggie Lee, e-mail mlee@macon.com.

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