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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Bill breathes new life into old barns

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A bill introduced in the Legislature would help breathe life back into some of Iowa's old barns.

The measure would change eligibility requirements for a property tax exemption for barn preservation.

Currently, the law applies only to barns build before 1937. The bill introduced in the Senate would allow barns 50 years or older to qualify for the exemption.

"These old barns are just disappearing like crazy," said Sen. Gene Fraise, D-Fort Madison, who introduced a bill.

To qualify for the tax break, owners must restore a barn to its original purposes, he said.

If they update a barn to live in it, the property taxes will rise.

Thurman Gaskill, a Republican state lawmaker, and his wife Gerry, have a 96-year-old red barn on a farm near Corwith that the family is renovating.

The Gaskills have spent $19,000 to restore the barn's roof, which was built by Gaskill's grandfather in 1912.

The family intends to spend at least $50,000 more on repairs and turn part of the barn into a place for family gatherings, with space for a bathroom, kitchen and fireplace, Gaskill said.

The barn already qualifies for the tax exemption, but the Gaskills say they would restore the barn anyway. Their intention is to preserve a piece of history, Gaskill said.

"It's a special place," Gerry Gaskill said.

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