WHEELING — Mayor Glenn Elliott and incoming West Virginia Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, met with a private developer Wednesday who will likely commit to at least one substantial project in downtown Wheeling if the state expands its historic rehabilitation tax credit.
Ferns said a rate increase from 10 percent to 25 percent is appealing and seems to make sense, but said he’d like to see some demonstrated economic return outside the cities and counties on which the tax credits have an immediate impact. He said since the state’s budget would bear the burden of the tax credits, it, too, should ideally receive a boost — especially when the state is facing a potential deficit of $400 million.
If beneficial to West Virginia’s budget, and the subject is of interest to leadership in Charleston, Ferns said he would likely introduce a bill to strengthen the credit during the 2017 legislative session, which begins Feb. 8.
A mix of local developers, advocates and politicians, including U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., have recently called for a boost in the state historic tax credit because of West Virginia’s disadvantage against border states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Both offer a 25-percent credit, which many believe leads activity away from the Mountain State.
Elliott said this may be difficult to understand in Charleston, but said in Wheeling the difference is fairly clear. He echoed Ferns’ concern and said the challenge lies in accounting for short-term revenue loss in the state’s budget, so it may later reap possible long-term benefits.