5:57pm

Fri May 18, 2012
Taxes

Syracuse "land bank" faces tall order: 3,300 tax-delinquent properties

The city of Syracuse has a new tool it hopes will reduce the number of vacant and tax-delinquent properties.

This week the state gave the OK for Syracuse and Onondaga County to create one of the first five "land banks" in New York State.

The new agency has plenty to work on.

There are 3,300 delinquent plots in the city of Syracuse alone.

Its creators hope the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corp. will be able to coax delinquent property owners into paying up. If not, the agency is better equipped to to seize abandoned properties.

It's all with the goal of getting more land back onto the tax rolls, says Syracuse's Neighborhood Development Commissioner Paul Driscoll.

"It will send a message that you need to pay your taxes," says Driscoll. "But for people who have completely walked away from their responsibilities, it provides a consequence where foreclosure could occur."

The property development corporation is a nonprofit agency formed in partnership with the county. 

The state legislature passed a bill last summer authorizing the creation of land banks. This week, Empire State Development (ESD), the state's economic development arm, approved land banks for:

  1. Buffalo and Erie County
  2. Syracuse and Onondaga County
  3. Schenectady and Schenectady County
  4. Chautauqua County
  5. City of Newburgh

ESD plans to review more applications and approve a second round of five land banks.

The board of Syracuse's land bank will meet soon to discuss strategy moving forward, according to Driscoll.