January 9, 2012 [Fox 19]
CINCINNATI, OH –
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioner held it’s first Board of Directors meeting for the newly formed Land Bank Monday afternoon.
The board voted commission President Greg Hartmann the chair of the Land Re-utilization Corporation.
“If there is a vacant property, that’s a real drag on property values, we got to deal with these across this county. We’ve seen an explosion of foreclosures in the downturn of the economy, this gives us one tool to deal with that,” says Hartmann.
Representatives from Cuyahoga County walked the board through the steps of setting up and maintaining a successful land bank. Cuyahoga was the first county in Ohio to adopt the practice.
The land bank is an investment project that uses delinquent tax assessment fees to purchase abandoned properties and re-store them to sell for profit.
“Those fees are already collected they’re just allocated in a different way so we’re using those fees currently to re-plug them back into doing this deal with land,” says Hartmann.
But the money was once used to help the budgets of Cincinnati Public Schools and the public libraries.
“We’re concerned because any funding loss starts to add up very quickly when you’re already looking at a 3 million dollar cut,” says Fender.
In an email, Cincinnati Public Schools released this statement: “Cincinnati Public Schools understands the importance of economic development to our community’s well-being and believes one of the best ways to accomplish this is by ensuring that our students are prepared with the skills and knowledge to succeed in our local work force. Unfortunately, diverting resources from schools to help fund the Land Bank makes that more difficult to accomplish.”
But Hartmann says the long term investment is better for everyone’s budget in the county.
“They’re losing a small bit and my argument with all of them thought is we’re all in this together. If we grow the jobs base of the economy and increase property values across the county that is good for all of us,” says Hartmann.
The board meets again Feb. 15.