Washington city council members continued an ongoing discussion Monday over wanting to have more leverage in any potential agreement to join the county’s land bank.
The motion to join Washington County Land Bank is on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, but Mayor Scott Putnam said he would like to see some “language changes” to the agreement.
“I think the principal of it is a good idea, but I just want some things cleared up before the agreement is in place,” he said.
The four-party, “intergovernmental cooperation agreement,” would consist of the city, land bank, county commissioners and the city’s school district, according to Rob Phillips, assistant community development director for Redevelopment Authority of Washington County.
Phillips, who oversees the land bank for the redevelopment authority, said the purpose of the agreement is to allow the land bank to purchase city property through judicial sale, then renovate and sell the properties to get them back on the tax base.
“We target those properties because the price is fixed and it’s low,” Phillips said. “Typically, the buildings that we’re looking at need substantial renovations to bring them back to productive use.”
In the time between the property’s rehabilitation and its sale, however, the city would be responsible for maintenance, grass cutting and securing the building, Phillips said. That raised concerns for Putnam, who believes the city should at least be compensated for any repairs, boarded up windows or lawn maintenance.
“We are currently budgeting for abandoned property maintenance,” Putnam said. “But if they’re going to sell these properties and get some money for them, we’d just like some back for the maintenance.”
Phillips said the land bank board is “uncomfortable” sharing any profits made from the sale of the properties with the city.
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