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Pullman promotes historic preservation

Tax breaks available to property owners

Like most of the older cities in Washington, Pullman has its share of homes and commercial buildings with historic character.

Yet Pullman has lagged behind other places in Washington in getting those buildings officially designated on historic registers.

Now, a group of residents is trying to stimulate community interest in Pullman’s year-old historic preservation program at City Hall.

The Pullman League of Women Voters is sponsoring a panel discussion for the public on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Hecht Meeting Room in the Neill Public Library to talk about how historic preservation works.

The National Park Service certified the city in 2011 to offer historic preservation services as well as the tax benefits that go along with being listed.

So far no property owners have sought designation, said city planning director Pete Dickinson.

The local register offers property tax breaks for 10 years as an incentive for qualified restorations.

Property owners can have a building’s assessed value reduced through a special valuation offered by the program. In turn, the broader community benefits from higher property values and tax payments when the incentive period expires.

Allison Munch-Rotolo, a member of the Pullman Historic Preservation Commission, said property owners with potentially qualified buildings are largely unaware of the tax advantages.

“We are trying to change that,” she said.

The commission has been preparing for a consultant survey of about 50 properties through a state grant.

Pullman joins 67 other communities in Washington that already have certified historic preservation programs, including Spokane, Walla Walla, Dayton, Cheney, Harrington and Colfax.

Participating communities enjoy a measure of local control through their own historic preservation commissions.

Properties may be eligible for state and national historic registers. Commercial properties on the national register can qualify for federal tax breaks.

In addition to providing tax incentives, the historic preservation program is intended to develop a community appreciation for the value of conserving historic properties.

League members will moderate Monday’s panel discussion. Panelists will be Dickinson and three commission members: John Anderson, chair; Matthew Root, an archaeologist; and Ned Warnick, vice chair and an architect.

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