Common Council passes legislation on regional land bank

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At a Wednesday night meeting, the Rome Common Council acted on measures dealing with the Copper City’s birthday and the continued rehabilitation of distressed properties.

With the exception of a “nay” vote cast by Fifth Ward Councilor Frank Anderson, a resolution was carried for the City of Rome to remit 50% of real property taxes for properties rehabilitated by the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank.

In a discussion of the matter with Anderson, the city’s chief code enforcement officer and building inspector, Mark Domenico, explained that in order for the Land Bank to sustain itself, part of the funding mechanism for the entity includes that 50% of the property taxes of properties rehabilitated by them and resold are remitted to the Land Bank for a period of five years.

Anderson said he supported the Land Bank, but hadn’t heard of the practice.

Since 2016, several parcels in his Ward 5 have been part of the program that turns over abandoned, distressed properties to the Land Bank where they are rehabilitated, re-sold and begin generating taxes again.

Domenico confirmed that a number of municipalities in the multi-county land bank coverage region also participate in the 50% for five years practice. More communities are being approached to participate.

“The devil’s in the details,” said Seventh Ward Councilor A. Robert Tracy, during the discussion.

As an example, Tracy opined that a house rehabilitated in Rome to the tune of $127,000 might not actually sell for that amount to recoup losses and break even, or see a profit.

So, Tracy surmised that on some projects, the Land Bank might be running a deficit and might have to, “sustain itself somehow.”

“You’re not always going to see a profit,” said third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers. She said she felt that sometimes a public investment is needed for properties that might be dragging down property values.

• In other council actions, the official 1870 incorporation of the Copper City was marked down for history.

“We are all very happy,” said Bobbie O’Brien speaking for the Rome Historical Society. She added that the Society is ready to collaborate on any festivities to be planned for the city’s 150th anniversary.

A resolution noting the occasion was unanimously carried by the Council. Just prior to the vote, Councilor Kimberly Rogers said, “I’m sure the city will take her up on the partnership. ...It will be an exciting year.”

City officials have previously indicated that an anniversary celebration would piggyback Rome’s Honor America Days celebration slated for July.

• First Ward Councilor John Sparace was absent from the meeting.

• The next Rome Common Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 26

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