Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Columbia to pony up $100,000 to kick-start Land Bank projects


Columbia will front $100,000 to the Lancaster County Land Bank to begin its mission of buying and restoring blighted properties in the borough. The funds are considered "seed money," according to Borough Finance Committee member Kelly Murphy at January's finance meeting.

Explaining the borough's need to pony up the funds, Murphy said, “Lancaster County Commissioners created this [the Land Bank], but there is no funding mechanism for it at the moment.” The funding will require an extra line item on the 2017 budget, according to Murphy.

Murphy said representatives from the borough and the school board met with the Land Bank and targeted 18 properties, with an initial two, that could benefit from the program. All parties agreed that $100,000 is a suitable figure to get started in 2017. Murphy said that smaller, more manageable projects, which he termed "low-hanging fruit," will be undertaken first.

The Land Bank has a variety of options for a targeted property, including buying and reselling it to a contractor immediately, or hiring a contractor to complete renovations and then sell the property. The borough will control all terms of the transactions. After a property is rehabilitated and returned to the tax rolls, the land bank will get half the taxes collected in the first five years. One stipulation is that the properties must be sold as single family dwellings.

At the finance meeting, resident Sharon Lintner asked “Is that [$100,000] used to purchase, or to purchase and fix up?” Murphy replied that it was to purchase. Lintner cited the $5,000 fee to join and the $1,000 annual membership fee, but questioned the amount of additional funding. “I didn’t know about the $100,000, and that’s why I questioned you. I didn’t know.”

Resident Frank Doutrich said, “I didn't hear anything when this was presented - that we were going to be buying properties. My feeling was it was going to be the Land Bank doing all the buying.”

Murphy replied, “They are, but we're giving them, for lack of a better term, $100,000 seed money. They have no funding.”

Doutrich replied, “I never heard nothing about that, and I sit and I listen pretty good.”

Murphy said, “It’s like we’re gifting them $100,000 to start purchasing these projects to get them rehabbed on behalf of Columbia Borough. They’re just like another legislative body.”

Doutrich then asked what would happen if the Land Bank runs out of money. Murphy replied that they could ask the borough for more.

Mayor Leo Lutz said, "We aren’t giving anybody a dollar. We're putting that money in the budget. At some point and time we could say we want out of this - give us our money back," Lutz said.

The committee voted to take the matter to February's council meeting.

Columbia Spy reported previously on the Land Bank HERE and HERE.

14 comments:

  1. Problem with all these blighted properties is location, location and location. Why would I want to purchase a home, spend a ton of money and then send my children to a school in turmoil.

    Why is Columbia in the real estate business? Has anyone moved in the LHOP property on North Third Street after two years of renovations? What is eighteen homes in blight going to do compered to rental properties at 45% in Columbia.Throwing that LASA money away!

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    1. Maybe this is part of the bond money.

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  2. LUTZ has got to gooooo!!

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  3. Replies
    1. We published a list of blighted properties here:
      http://www.columbiaspy.com/2016/09/columbia-borough-blighted-properties.html?m=1
      The ones targeted by the Land Bank are most likely included on the list.

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  4. I am laughing my head off at that comment..."We aren’t giving anybody a dollar. We're putting that money in the budget." So we put money into a budget but never give any money to anybody....I can't stop laughing at that comment.....

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  5. If the county commissioners created the Land Bank.let them give the 100,000 dollars seed money.How much of the sewer plant sale money is left? Just think how many streets could be repaired with this money.

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  6. Can this $100,000 be used by the Land Bank to buy properties anywhere in Lancaster County? Is there a contract stating the money only goes to our borough? If not is this really a smart idea? As for getting the money back I don't think they will allow us to join then give the money back because we changed our minds. That's like buying a brand new car and taking it back after you put 50,000 miles on it and expecting a full refund. So the school board is in on this as well. Do they really think they're going to get that much more tax money for the school off of this. Is this the DOO's idea to help fund the $100,000 that were are now not getting from the Elaco fiasco? Our town is sinking from the high school taxes, jobs being created deceptively, rental properties almost equal to single family homes. Let's cleanup the school board,and put a stop to any more rentals or this will be a ghost town with no value$$

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    1. No, the $100,000 is only for properties in Columbia.

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  7. THE BANK IS ALWAYS OPEN IN COLUMBIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  8. Why doesn't the Legislative Chair on Council make a resolution that no more rental properties. They made the law on buildings turned into apartments. Why invest in the dumps that were under the watch of our great Codes Department. Remember all the original families who cared once owned the properties all moved out of Columbia.

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  9. what the hell does the school board have to do with this????? is it their money? no.

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    Replies
    1. Good question. Borough is footing the bill to join and kicking in the $100,000.

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  10. what the HELL is wrong with all these people?????? they think this is ok?????? NO NO IT"S NOT. this is ridiculous. the mgmt and council act like Columbia has money growing on trees. they just continue to hand it out. we need to get rid of this council. now. 100% UNACCEPTABLE

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