Montgomery County land bank awarded $1.1M

Montgomery County’s fledgling land bank will get an estimated $1.1 million a year from delinquent property tax collections to fund operations, with the goal of transiting blighted, foreclosed, and abandoned properties into viable, marketable real estate.

The County Commission, on Tuesday, awarded five percent of the county’s Delinquent Tax and Assessment Collection Fund to the land bank, officially known as the Montgomery County Land Re-utilization Corporation. Montgomery County was the last urban county in Ohio to adopt this funding mechinism for its land bank.

Land bank board member Douglas E. Harnish called the land re-utilization corporation “an implement of change.”

“Any implement needs a power source, an engine, in order for it to be used for its designed purpose. In the case of the (land bank) this engine is money,” Harnish said.

Prior to the vote, Montgomery County Treasurer Carolyn Rice,    brought in speakers from around the county and the state to address the commission on the benefits of a land bank.

“The land bank isn’t about that vacant and abandoned property. It’s about the well cared for, well maintained home on either side of the vacant house,” said Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, also chair of the county’s land bank.

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith said he believes property values will continue to struggle here until the issue of the estimated 7,000 vacant and abandoned structures across the county is addressed. About 75 percent of owners who are delinquent on their property taxes never make a payment plan driving the county’s delinquency tax rolls to $90 million on 23,000 parcels.

That’s where Montgomery County’s new land-bank can make a difference, Rice said.

Seven properties have been acquired and passed through the land bank since last August. One of those properties was the former Dayton Electroplate on Valley Street, which used to top the county’s list of tax delinquent properties. Now, the new owner is demolishing the structures, re-mediating the site, and giving the entire area new promise, Rice said.

The new funding potentially could be used to establish a lot links program where a neighbor would have a chance to acquire abandoned properties adjacent to theirs, or for rehab and demolition, Rice said.

“The land bank board has kept its pledge to start small and evolve, but the time has come to provide the revenue needed to seriously address the problem,” said Rice, adding only properties with an identified new user will be accepted into the land bank.

Rice said the next step will be to meet with jurisdictions to explain what is available and urge them to get involved.

Currently, the land bank has Memorandums of Understanding with Dayton,Trotwood, Riverside, Kettering and Harrison Township. A similar memorandum is being negoitated with West Carrollton.

The delinquent property tax collections for the land bank would have gone to taxing authorities in the county such as schools, cities, park districts and libraries. For example, the action will redirect an estimated $242,639 from Dayton Public Schools, $181,907 from Montgomery County Human Services and $43,965 from Sinclair Community College.

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