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Politics and Government

Council wants to kick-start land bank operations

The Syracuse Common Council has proposed loaning the newly formed city-county land bank money so it can begin operating in earnest, but questions remain on the availability of those funds.

The council is considering a $500,000 loan the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corp., but they have delayed voting on the measure.

The land bank was formed earlier this year as a new tool to deal with nearly 3,900 vacant and tax delinquent properties in the city. While it began sending out foreclosure notices last month, questions remain as to the long-term funding source of the corporation.

"It’s imperative that we get the land bank going," says councilor Nader Maroun. 

Maroun says the hope would be that the bank could leverage its loan to match other grants in order to bring in more funding.

"We’ve provided a funding mechanism to provide some initial dollars that the land bank board could then go to these other foundations so that we can get busy with work at hand," he says.

The money for the loan would come from sales tax revenue and is already in the budget, according to Maroun, but there is confusion between the council and the mayor's office over whether the money actually exists. The mayor's office did not immediately provide further details on the confusion.

Those working on the land bank say once back taxes begin coming in from the foreclosure process, part of that money could be used for long-term funding. The council would have to approve that plan as well.