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Conference Leadership Joins Ohio Rep. Turner in Unveiling $1 Billion Brownfields Tax Credit

By Judy Sheahan
March 15, 2004


Conference of Mayors President Hempstead Mayor James A. Garner and Vice President Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams and Rockford (IL) Mayor Doug Scott joined Representative Mike Turner (OH) at a March 9 Capital Hill press conference where he unveiled a $1 billion tax credit brownfields program targeted towards cities.

Outlining the need for a federal solution to the brownfields problem, Congressman Turner said, "Three decades of federal laws and regulations encouraging abandonment have left our cities and communities searching to attract jobs and struggling to heal the fabric of their neighborhoods and downtowns. If our goal of cleaning up these sites is to be successful, we must provide a federal response to a federally created problem."

Mayor Garner praised Representative Turner and the bill saying it was a means of encouraging economic development, promoting sustainable development and creating jobs. Garner quoted the Conference's 2003 Brownfields Survey that stated that over 83,000 jobs were created in 74 cities as a result of their brownfield redevelopment activities.

"When Congressman Turner was a Mayor, he was a co-chair of the Conference's Brownfields Task Force and played an active role in developing policy that would assist cities in their efforts to redevelop these abandoned properties," Garner said, "I am glad that he is continuing this effort in his new role as Congressman."

"With this bill being passed into law," Garner said, "my fellow mayors and I believe that we can attract even more development to these formerly forgotten sites."

Mayor Plusquellic commended the bill for encouraging businesses to reinvest in sites that have been abandoned long ago. "I know we were all trying to make the businesses who were responsible for polluting these sites, responsible for cleaning them up, and we still are," Plusquellic said, "but we have to face the reality that sometimes there is no one around anymore to point your finger at and blame. We have to move forward and do what is right and redevelop these formerly used sites where the infrastructure already exists and not develop farmland and greenfields in the outlying fringes. That is not where the jobs are needed. They are needed in the cities."

Mayor Williams, who also serves as First Vice President for the National League of Cities, talked about the bill's incentives to encourage current owners of brownfields sites to cleanup their sites. Williams said, "Tax incentives will encourage responsible parties to come forward and initiate cleanup and remediation in advance of government enforcement. This innovative legislation will steer development dollars toward communities in our nation that we-re all trying to revitalize. Furthermore, it will encourage targeted job creation in our neighborhoods."

Garner added, "We sincerely appreciate and welcome the Representative's efforts in assisting us in our brownfields redevelopment work and we are prepared to assist in the effort to get this bill signed into law."

The major provisions of the proposed Brownfields Tax Credit Program include:

  • $1 billion in federal tax credits allocated to states based on population;
  • the program would be administered by state development agencies;
  • credits would be provided to brownfield redevelopment projects where the local government entity includes a census track with poverty in excess of 20 percent;
  • states would give preference to redevelopment projects based on the extent of contamination remediated, the poverty at the location of the project, the number of jobs created, the position of the property within the central business district, and the owner's financial commitment for redevelopment;
  • tax credits would be allocated for up to 50% of demolition and remediation costs pursuant to an approved remediation plan;
  • tax credits are transferable and can be sold to third parties such as banks - proceeds of sale are non'taxable;
  • remainder of costs are deductible/depreciable by property owner; and
  • potentially responsible parties that contribute no less than 25 % of remediation costs receive liability release for 100% of approved remediation plan demolition and remediation costs.