As debate heats up once again about the proper size of Missouri's Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, supporters of the credit face a perception problem: The sense, across much of Missouri, that the big-dollar program primarily benefits St. Louis and Kansas City.
The notion that the state's two big cities gobble up most of the historic credits is a frequent concern among critics of the program, which cost taxpayers $117 million a year on average over the last three years, and which some in Jefferson City would like to sharply curtail.
And it's a notion that historic supporters frequently combat by touting the credit's successes in small towns, too, reviving old hotels and school buildings that would otherwise sit vacant.
But based purely on the numbers and where the money goes, reality isn't so different from the perception.
Building Blocks reviewed the last 21 months' worth of historic tax credit authorizations, back through the July 1, 2011, the start of the state's 2012 fiscal year. Many of these projects are under construction right now.
In that time, buildings in 18 counties in every corner of the state were authorized for historic credits, from St. Joseph to Cape Girardeau, Hannibal to Joplin. But the overwhelming majority of historic tax credit projects were located in two places: Jackson County and the City of St. Louis.
Those two counties combined for 201 of the 237 authorizations since July 2011, and absorbed 90 percent of the dollars — $148.4 million out of $168.4 million that was authorized. Most of that went to projects in the City of St. Louis.
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