Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
The Gardner City Council has established a land bank in a renewed push to revitalize blighted parts of the city and give potential landowners a chance to purchase land without inheriting delinquent taxes on the properties.
The council, during its Nov. 5 meeting created the land bank which will allow the city to acquire property sold at tax sale without having to pay the delinquent taxes.
“If a city is a successful bidder at a tax sale, the city is required to pay delinquent taxes. In contrast, when a land bank acquires property, the county treasurer must remove from the tax roll all taxes, charges, penalties and interest,” said Larry Powel, director of economic development.
Powell said that through a land bank the city can abate or re-amortize delinquent special assessments.
“If there are tax and special delinquencies on properties that are impending development, a land bank provides a vehicle for taking title to the property and cleaning up these encumbrances so that the new owner starts with a clean slate,” he said.
Steve Shute, mayor, said the establishment of the bank should not be construed to mean the council is doling out corporate welfare.
The council also appointed Mathew Wolf, interim finance director, as the founding treasurer of the land bank. The city council will act as the board officers for the new entity with the mayor chairing board meetings. The board’s’ vice president will be Rich Melton, council member.
It was unclear whether the consideration to create the land bank was subjected to a public hearing or whether such a hearing is required by law.