Commissioners discuss land bank

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — Preble County Commissioners invited the five local school district superintendents into their meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 11, to discuss the possibility of creating a land bank.

Only Twin Valley South Superintendent Bob Fischer and National Trail Superintendent Jeff Parker were able to attend the meeting.

“The reason we asked you here is that we have the ability to create a land bank,” Commission President Chris Day explained. “A land bank is a mechanism for us to acquire a delinquent property, possible tear down structures and repurpose those properties.

“We weren’t able to do this until almost two years ago now. You had to be a county of over 60,000 population. The legislator made it to where every county could do it. We’re investigating creating that, so maybe we can deal with some of those blighted properties.

“The reason we asked you here today is that we have the ability to obtain some of the taxes that you guys get on the delinquent structures,” he continued. “Right now, the auditor and the prosecutor obtain five percent of those funds. We have the ability to obtain an additional five percent, which we would utilize for blighted properties. We wanted feedback from you guys to if you think this is a good or bad idea.”

“If we were to do this, the end goal would be to obtain grants and federal funding to tear down some of these blighted properties. We want to get these properties back into a tax payers hand,” he said.

Commissioner Denise Robertson added, “You understand that the prosecutor gets five percent and the schools get 95 percent of this money. What we are wanting to do to fund our land bank is take an additional five percent, leaving the schools with the 90 percent.”

“Does that mean, when you say blighted properties, that no one is currently living there?” Superintendent Parker questioned.

“Depends. Typically what you would target is the ones that are vacant. That is where we would start,” Day clarified.

“Keep in mind that we don’t want to go out in the middle of a corn field and tear a house down,” Commissioner Rodney Creech added. “I’m looking at this from an economic development standpoint. In the big scheme of things you could be getting a lot more money back than you’re getting out.”

“If we have a delinquent property that you could put back in the tax roll, that’s good for everybody,” Robertson said.

“The smaller counties are just getting into [making land banks], so we’re following them,” Day said. “I think it is a good thing to have in our pocket, but we have to figure out how to use it.”

“The superintendents meet next Monday, would you be willing to come in and talk with us?” Superintendent Fischer asked.

Day decided he would meet with them on Monday, Oct. 16, to share information on the land bank with all of the superintendents.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH