In­terim board is needed to write rules for city land bank au­thor­ity

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

City law­mak­ers are be­ing asked to make an­other push at es­tab­lish­ing an in­terim board to write rules for a full-time land bank au­thor­ity.

At a meet­ing Tues­day, Brenna Robin­son, the di­rec­tor of the city’s Of­fice of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, re­viewed the se­lec­tion process with mem­bers of the Com­mon Coun­cil’s Law and Rules Com­mit­tee.

“The in­terim board would do the 501C-3 fil­ing,” she said, re­fer­ring to its tax ex­empt sta­tus. “It would con­sist of the city en­gi­neer, city plan­ner, head of build­ing safety, mayor’s ap­point­ment, and a Com­mon Coun­cil ap­point­ment.”

Com­mon Coun­cil mem­bers in July 2015 voted 7-2 to take the steps nec­es­sary to form the land bank. How­ever, the board needed to form the land man­age­ment au­thor­ity has not been for­mally des­ig­nated.

Robin­son said the land bank would mainly al­le­vi­ate the bur­den the city has of car­ry­ing aban­doned, di­lap­i­dated or con­demned prop­er­ties it has seized for non­pay­ment of taxes. She said it would also pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for the city to ac­quire prop­er­ties ap­proach­ing tax fore­clo­sure or to cre­ate more green space, among other op­tions.

“Land banks them­selves are more about ac­quir­ing prob­lem prop­er­ties and dis­pos­ing of them ac­cord­ing to lo­cal plans, com­mu­nity in­ter­est and that kind of thing,” she said.

“I en­vi­sion this as land bank plus a hous­ing com­mis­sion, a hous­ing re­sources or­ga­ni­za­tion for pre­vent­ing fore­clo­sures, pro­vid­ing res­i­dents at risk of fore­clo­sure with re­sources to keep them in their homes,” Robin­son said.

Robin­son said the land bank panel would work with state agen­cies to de­ter­mine which prop­erty own­ers are in need of as­sis­tance.

“There will be a state data­base of peo­ple at risk of fore­clo­sure,” she said. “Lenders are re­quired to con­tact the state De­part­ment of Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices and tell them when one of their bor­row­ers are be­hind three months or more.”

Among ways that the land bank could pro­vide as­sis­tance would be by sell­ing prop­er­ties to de­velop a fund­ing pool.

“That is one op­tion,” Robin­son said. “There are some land banks who have ne­go­ti­ated with their fi­nan­cial de­part­ments to re­ceive a cer­tain amount of taxes once the prop­erty is back on the tax roll; there are grants avail­able; there are com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that land banks can bor­row from; and our prob­lem will de­ter­mine how we fund it.”

Al­der­men are ex­pected to have rec­om­men­da­tions for names sent to them via email be­fore de­ter­min­ing whether to make ap­point­ments to the in­terim board be­fore the end of the year.

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