POMEROY — Two concerned business owners approached the Meigs County Commissioners during Thursday’s regular meeting, asking the status of the proposed land bank for Meigs County.
Maureen Burns of Herbal Sage Tea and Bruce Martin of Holly Hill Inn asked the commissioners for an update on the land bank, which was previously approved in a resolution by the commissioners.
“Meigs County is the jewel of the Ohio Valley… a hidden jewel,” said Martin. He asked the commissioners to imagine what it could be like with the dilapidated properties renovated, demolished or cleaned up.
According to the Center for Community Progress, “land banks are governmental entities or nonprofit corporations that are focused on the conversion of vacant, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties into productive use.”
The land banks are designed to help revitalize areas and properties which have been abandoned or have not been taken care of for many years.
Commissioners Jimmy Will explained that the establishment of the land bank is a two part process. The first step in the process was the resolution passed by the commissioners earlier in the year.
The second step is for the county treasurer to file the articles to form the land bank. Will said it is two pages of paperwork and a $100 fee.
“She has refused to do so,” said Will of Treasurer Peggy Yost completing the necessary filing.
Will said the only explanation has been concerns regarding a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County.
“If the treasurer is holding us back what can we do,” asked Burns.
Commissioner Randy Smith said that during the County Commissioner Association of Ohio conference last week there was a group session on land banks. During that session he asked if there was a way to move forward with the land bank should the treasurer not file the paperwork. Smith said there is no way to move forward without the treasurer submitting the paperwork.
Should the land bank process not be completed by the end of 2019, the county stands to loose $250,000 in funding which is set aside for counties who establish new land banks. The grant funding runs out at the end of the current calendar year, said Will and Commissioner Randy Smith.
Smith explained that once that funding is no longer available a new land bank would only have a small portion of tax revenue in order to begin operation and that it would not be financially possible.
Will said not only could the land bank help to clean up the properties but could help with the delinquent tax problem in the county. He said that in Meigs County tax collection is around 68 percent, well below the surrounding counties which are in the 90s.
Burns asked if a meeting could be set up in order to ask the questions about why the process is not moving forward, and allow for people on both sides of the land bank conversation to express concerns and receive information and answers.
A public town hall meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 19 in the Meigs County Common Pleas courtroom for the purposed of discussing the Meigs County Land Bank and why it has not been moving forward. The commissioners have invited the treasurer and auditor to take part in the meeting.
More on Thursday’s meeting will appear in an upcoming edition of The Daily Sentinel.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.