ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There are hundreds of abandoned, unsightly, and unsafe buildings and homes throughout Albany and Dougherty County.
Members of the newly created Land Bank kicked off their first meeting on Tuesday evening.
The Land Bank will be focused on many of the same target areas of the Fight Albany Blight campaign, and how the group plans to identify delinquent, but valuable properties that could easily transfer to potential buyers.
"Care about revitalizing Albany, not just downtown but all over and addressing the blighted properties," said the current Downtown Development Chair Thelma Johnson.
Johnson was selected to this group.
"I'm thankful for them entrusting me with such a position," said Johnson.
With a strong financial background, Johnson will apply her expertise to address the city and county's property tax digest.
"To make sure that we can return those non-generating revenue and non-generating properties back to the tax roll," said Johnson.
With a $100,000 budget, they're targeting properties east of the Flint River and the neighborhoods between Pine and Phoebe Main.
"Someone has walked away from this property, so we're not competing with an owner and we're not taking anything," said Albany-Dougherty Planning Director, Paul Forgey.
Forgey said they have abandoned homes where taxes haven't been paid in nearly a decade.
"We really need to work with the community to find out what individual neighborhoods need," Forgey explained.
Then they'll identify a buyer, acquire the property, wipe out all of the back taxes on it and quickly transfer it to the city or county so they're not responsible for its maintenance.
A win/win for the city and county and its taxpayers.
All seven members will spend the next few weeks training and will visit other cities like Macon and Atlanta that have land banks.
The Land Bank will discuss policies and procedures at their next meeting on September 20th.
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