Additional funding sought to complete $15 million proposed center

Taft College is venturing into a new arena in an effort to secure additional funding for its under-construction Transition to Independent Living (TIL) Center.
The Board of Trustees, at its monthly meeting last Thursday, approved agreements with a new market tax credit firm and a law firm to assemble an investment package it hopes will generate an additional $3 million to enhance construction of a new home for the highly acclaimed program that teaches young adults with mild intellectual disabilities to live on their own.
Trustees unanimously approved agreements with Community College NMTC (New Market Tax Credit) LLC to facilitate the new market transaction process and with Nixon Peabody Attorneys at Law to oversee the legal aspects.
Community College NMTC is based in Baltimore, MD and will be the non-exclusive agent and program manager to negotiate the transaction at a fee of $100,000.
The college will pay Nixon Peabody, the Washington D.C.-based law firm, fees ranging from $140,000-$160,000 for its services.
The new TIL Center, which will move the program out of portable buildings it has occupied since its inception 12 years ago, is being funded by $10.5 million in state school construction money and $2 million from a local construction bond measure approved by voters in 2004.
Last fall, the college began looking for additional revenue to bring total project funding to nearly $15 million, which was the cost of the original design.
After discussing options, the board focused on new market tax credits as its preferred choice.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Treasury website, the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program was established by Congress in 2000 “to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities.”
Taft qualifies, and although NMTC’s have been used primarily in the private sector, the government has begun approving public sector applications.
The program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments.
The credit totals 39 percent of the original investment amount and is claimed over seven years – five percent for each of the first three years and six percent for each of the remaining four years.
“This program can be very sellable,” board president Billy White said during a November teleconference with David Miller, who heads up the Community College NMTC LLC and has lobbied Congress on behalf of the TIL program, and Joel Cohen, an accounting consultant.  “I think we can put an excellent package together.”
Miller and Cohen, who were speaking from Baltimore, felt the TIL project would be looked upon favorably in the application process.
“You’ve got a tremendous story to tell,” Miller told the board.  “I think you’ve got a lot of sizzle.  It will stimulate economic activity in your community.”