By JEN CARDINES
Santa paid a visit to Southington Community Cultural Arts (SoCCA) on Monday, Dec. 19. Just before the accountants close the books on 2016, a last-minute check helped balance the books.
Southington Community Cultural Arts (SoCCA) received a check for $317,600 from Eversource Energy, which helped ease the tax burden from recent renovations.
SoCCA executive director Mary DeCroce said that due to its location in the Gura Building across from the town green, the arts center qualified for the Connecticut Historic Preservation tax credit program.
SoCCA still had to prove that it met the qualifications for the state tax credits, calculated as 25 percent of the $1.27 million construction costs ($317,600). DeCroce said it was a lot of work, but it was worth the effort.
“The building was registered in 1988 as adding to the town green historically,” DeCroce said. “That put us in a category of being able to get money for historical preservation.”
Since SoCCA is a non-profit, that credit became a commodity, which Eversource agreed to purchase.
“Eversource can take advantage of this tax credit, and we’re the leading purchaser of historical tax credits in the State of Connecticut,” said Eversource manager of governmental affairs Tom Dorsey. “We saw this as an opportunity to invest in Southington.”
State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz was there for the presentation, since he was the one that tipped DeCroce off about the tax credit program. He had just finished working with a Berlin site that qualified for the money, and he told the SoCCA director to jump on board.
The Town of Southington owns the Gura Building and leases it to SoCCA for the use of their arts center, which means that Eversource actually wrote the check to the Town of Southington. DeCroce said that Southington town attorney Mark Sciota and Town Manager Garry Brumback have agreed to reimburse SoCCA once the check was received.
DeCroce said that this tax credit made it possible to reimburse funds from the building project, even leaving a surplus in their first year in business.
“In order to pay everybody, we had to take bridge loans,” said DeCroce, “So this pays everybody off, pays all our loans off, and puts us in the black for 2017.”
One of the requirements of the town was SoCCA having money for sustainability. This will help to do that.
“A lot of people start things, but they’re not able to get enough support to continue, but we had the support of the town residents,” DeCroce said.
As he presented the check, Dorsey said, “These projects are extremely difficult to do, but thankfully the State of Connecticut and the legislature have created a program that has given this organization the opportunity to have a wonderful space right on Main Street, right next to Town Hall.”