Historic preservation tax bill clears Senate

The bill that downtown Aberdeen development advocates have been watching for its ability to reward historic preservation unanimously passed the Senate, 49-0, Tuesday.

Pending the governor’s signature, House Bill 2868 would extend the 10-year special valuation of historic properties to a maximum of 24 years through two seven-year extensions.

Sponsored by Reps. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, and Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, the bill limits special tax valuations to properties that are located in towns and cities under 20,000 in population and in counties that are listed as “distressed areas” as reported by the state employment security department. According to the criteria, cities that currently qualify for the tax advantages include Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Centralia, Chehalis, Dayton, Kettle Falls, Ritzville and Shelton.

According to Grays Harbor County Commissioner Randy Ross, who spoke in favor of the bill at a House committee hearing last month, there are 162 properties in the county that would be eligible for the tax credit and some of them are already near the 10-year limit and could benefit from the bill’s seven-year extensions. The legislation will require all extensions of special valuation to be approved by a local review board.