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Syracuse Common Council reviews audit of Greater Syracuse Land Bank before vote

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Tom Magnarelli
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WRVO News File Photo
Katelyn Wright, the executive director of the Syracuse Land Bank.

Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci and Syracuse City Auditor Martin Masterpole spoke to Syracuse Common Council members on Monday about the audit they recently conducted on the Greater Syracuse Land Bank. The common council will soon hold a vote to determine how and when the land bank will receive $1.5 million in funding for their 2015-16 fiscal year. The audit reported the many successes of the land bank, which acquires tax delinquent properties and has resold 188 properties thus far. Moving forward, Antonacci said there are potential savings in how the land bank operates its demolitions. Currently, they are paying between $25,000 - 30,000 to demolish a property.

“But if we knew that we were going to demo, 100-200 properties and bank the land, so that we can repurpose or make the whole neighborhood more attractive to one investor or one developer, if we were able to do that in more economy of sale, could we drive that cost down?” Antonacci asked.   

Katelyn Wright, the executive director of the Syracuse Land Bank said they have leveraged $6 million of private investment in the properties they have sold.

“Revenues have been lower than expected and expenses have been somewhat higher than expected," Wright said. "If we’re going to continue to deal with the scale of the abandoned property problem in our community we need to get together with the city and the county, the two entities which created the land bank, and reexamine that business model and see what it takes to make it sustainable.”

There are still 2,800 tax delinquent properties in the city of Syracuse.    

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.