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Historic sites could get tax help

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SPRINGFIELD -- Locally run historic sites could be in line for a property tax break under legislation making its way through the Illinois General Assembly.

The proposal, which would extend a tax break first approved in 1999, is seen as vital to helping scores of museums and historic sites continue operating during tough budget times.

The plan, which previously received unanimous support in the Illinois House, would extend until 2012 an option allowing local taxing districts to abate any portion of its taxes on property owned by a qualified historical society. The measure is now pending in the Senate.

"Everybody is going through rough economic times. Our local historical societies are hurting too and would certainly be helped by a bit of property tax relief," said state Rep. Dan Brady, a Bloomington Republican who is sponsoring the legislation.

The Illinois Association of Museums estimates that about half of museums in Illinois are on public land and that up to 50 percent of them have had their property taxes abated.

Patricia Miller, executive director of the Champaign-based Illinois Heritage Association, said the measure could be particularly helpful to county historic societies that own multiple buildings, such as those in Macon and McLean counties.

The legislation is House Bill 4723.

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