The Union Recorder

Local News

May 24, 2013

Land bank could address local blight



Milledgeville City Planner Melba Hilson said the city is on board with the land bank idea.

“It's a wonderful idea for the city and the county to do things together,” Craig said.

• Land Bank powers and financing

A land bank entity has the power to sue, contract and borrow money for the work of the land bank. The bill also lets the board acquire, develop, demolish, rehabilitate, lease, sell or otherwise dispose of real property, according to the ACCG summary.

Once a land bank gains property control, the entity may extinguish tax liens. Any proceeds from land bank property sales go toward operations and to recover expenses. This authority may also be funded through government or private grants.

County attorney David McRee highlighted the statute's subsection allowing up to 75 percent of property taxes to go back into the bank instead of local government for a five-year period after conveyance.

“That's one of the ways they acquire funding to support their needs,” McRee said. “It's a trade off to get it back into productive hands.”

Senior counsel in the Atlanta office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP Kevin Brown, who specializes in commercial litigation and business transactions, hasn't seen a land bank created under the 2012 version of the statute. Senate Bill 284 revised the 1990 version by excluding land bank authorities from taking properties under forfeiture.

That restriction and the thought of elected officials giving up some property tax control can be a local government deterrent, according to Brown.

Commissioner Sammy Hall, District 3, doesn't mind those taxes going elsewhere for a better cause.

“That's probably not a great loss to the county because some of those properties are probably only paying $50 in property taxes. I think it's a good idea,” Hall said.

• MBC Development Authority can work the bank

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