Council considers next wave of tax delinquent properties

The Syracuse Common Council moved Monday to delay a vote on the sale of the next wave of tax delinquent properties in order to allow more time to consider each of the 46 cases. Included among the properties on the docket are homes, rental units, businesses and lots. Some are vacant, others are owner occupied or have tenants living in them. Over the past year, the Common Council has made numerous attempts to contact owners owing back taxes via mail and in person. Owners who agree to pay their debts have been removed from the list of 3,500 properties in consideration for seizure. The Council has specifically delayed action on owner-occupied properties to allow homeowners as much time as possible to make good on back taxes. Considering the high percentage of renters in Syracuse, many tenants fear that the turnover of homes to the land bank, which will become their new landlord upon the completion of sales, will lead to evictions. Councilor Jean Kessner promises that will not happen. "Everybody who lives in those properties will be treated fairly. They will not be thrown in the streets. There are things that can happen but they haven't because we've been very careful," assured Councilor Kessner. After years of inaction against delinquent homeowners, the City of Syracuse is finally holding its citizens accountable. "Your streets get cleaned up. Your trash gets picked up. If there's a fire the fire department comes. It costs money and the city needs to be on a level playing field. One of the ways the city does that is through property taxes. The land bank is the way we're doing it now and money's coming in." In pursuing these debts, the City has raised $2.2 million in unanticipated tax revenue. This week, the land bank will take possession of 23 properties, the sale of which began in August. Once the deeds are transferred, the land bank can then assess each property and make whatever changes necessary to bring homes and commercial spaces up to code and hopefully, provide a much needed spark to surrounding property values and neighborhoods.
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