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