The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is hoping the city of Syracuse comes through with some funding to keep the non-profit agency afloat.
Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright said without some help, the organization that buys dilapidated tax delinquent city properties with the goal of selling or demolishing them, will be out of savings soon.
“If things keep going the way they’re going, we’ll deplete our fund balance by the first quarter of 2021,” said Wright.
So she’s hoping to get some help from the city and is asking Mayor Ben Walsh to include some funding for the Land Bank in his upcoming budget.
“If there was $500,000 for property maintenance, that would almost cover our operating deficit,” she said. “That would really help us avoid spending down our fund balance. And we’ve also asked for $500,000 for demolitions.”
At this point, the Land Bank owns 235 properties that need to be demolished, but doesn’t have the funds to do it. Last year, lawmakers balked at a proposed $1.5 million budget line for the Land Bank, but Wright is optimistic this year might be different.
“I’m optimistic that Mayor Walsh will include a line item for the Land Bank,” Wright said. “I don’t know exactly what that dollar amount will be. That remains to be seen. And I’m cautiously optimistic that the council will keep that intact, and we’ll really be able to get a lot done when the city’s fiscal year begins July 1.”
In an annual report to Common Councilors, Wright she pointed out how the agency over the last five years has not only cleared out blight in city neighborhoods, but has helped the city bottom line, bringing in millions in formerly uncollected taxes, as well as $19 million in private renovation investment of the 537 properties it sold.