Westmoreland commissioners OK land bank finance plan
The newly formed Westmoreland County Land Bank could take ownership of its first property by May.
County commissioners on Thursday approved an agreement with the fledgling agency to give it a mechanism to raise money to operate.
Commissioners voted to turn over half of all property taxes collected for five years from sites rehabilitated by the land bank and sold back into private ownership.
“It gives the land bank an opportunity to have funds to go out and acquire properties,” said Commissioner Charles Anderson.
Commissioners created the land bank late last year as a means to return blighted and tax-delinquent properties back to the tax rolls.
The bank, which is run by a seven-member board dominated by members of the county Redevelopment Authority, will purchase properties, rehabilitate them and sell them to private investors. The agency is being initially funded through a $50,000 loan from the redevelopment authority.
April Kopas, who serves as director of the Redevelopment Authority, holds the same title with the land bank.
She said that as many as 10 municipalities and school districts are considering joining the land-bank program.
Each municipality and school district would have to agree to give the land bank half of the taxes collected on rehabilitated properties once they are sold.
Kopas has spent the last month meeting with municipal leaders about the program. Municipalities will be asked to pay $5,000 to join. School districts will not be asked to pay the entrance price, Kopas said.
The money collected will be added to the land bank's start-up cash and used to purchase properties.
No municipalities have signed on, but formal votes at the local level could occur in March and April, Kopas said.
“In those communities that enter into the land bank, we'll be looking at projects in those communities. We haven't purchased any properties yet, but we have a working list of priority projects,” Kopas said. “Hopefully by May the land bank would acquire its first properties.”
County officials view the land bank as a primary tool to reinvigorate communities with many rundown, tax-delinquent properties.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Contractor eyes early finish to work on New Stanton interchange of Interstate 70
- Jeannette trudges through blight
- 2 Greensburg properties left on demo list
- $2,000 donated for abused puppies recovering at South Huntingdon shelter
- Greensburg streetlights to be updated, save city $90K
- Penn Park project moves forward
- School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive
- Western Pa. students bristle at changing menu choices
- Indiana County school employee allegedly showed 2 students an inappropriate photo
- Harrold Middle School students hit new high with food drive
- Keystone Bakery closes Greensburg store