Comments Sought on Proposed Changes to Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program

September 14, 2018

TAC News

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County judges and commissioners are encouraged to review proposed rule changes affecting the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP) and mail comments to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) by Oct. 7.

Comments should be submitted to Mark Wolfe, Executive Director, Texas Historical Commission, P.O. Box 12276, Austin, Texas 78711.

A summary of the changes:

  • Revise the program rules to allow credit for prior capital expenditures and in-kind contributions toward a grant recipient’s cash match.
  • Revise the program rules to add a new scoring criterion “Local Match Capacity” (or ability to pay) as determined by a grant applicant’s ability to raise revenue – measured by the Taxable Value of Property, per the State Comptroller as an indicator of a grant applicant’s ability to pay. 
  • Local (county) matches shall not exceed 30% of the total project cost (except for “post restoration” grants) 
  • Streamline the grant application process and allow applicants to roll over their previous application
  • Continue to prioritize the funding of full restoration projects
  • Amend program rules to define an emergency as caused by a catastrophic event, a recently discovered condition that threatens the buildings with imminent and severe damage or critical repairs needed to correct accelerating damage from long-term deferred maintenance.
  • Formalize a process for accepting, evaluating and funding emergency grant requests out of cycle.

Advisory Committee Convened

The THC convened a Courthouse Advisory Committee to re-examine specific aspects of the THCPP in recognition of its long-standing accomplishments and consistent administration since its inception in 1999.

The goal of the Committee’s effort was to advise the Commission on priorities of the THCPP and its grant project selection process. County judges and commissioners, facilities managers, a representative from the Texas Association of Counties, County Historical Commission chairs and preservation architects and citizens comprised the Committee that met twice over the summer of 2018.

In preparation, THCPP staff mailed out a survey soliciting feedback from counties on numerous topics such as the grant application and evaluation process, courthouse stewardship and grant project funding. Results from the survey were tabulated by staff and presented to the Committee for its consideration. Opportunity for public testimony was offered at both meetings.

The Committee’s final recommendations were used by the Commission to modify THCPP program policy, propose changes to the program rules in the Texas Administrative Code.