PARKERSBURG — The mayor of Parkersburg and the auditor of West Virginia will meet today and talk about legislation intended to help cities and counties deal with dilapidated buildings.
Senate Bill 552, the Community Resurrection and Economic Development Act, will help people stay in their homes, help communities deal with dilapidated buildings and help attract people to live and invest in our communities, according to Auditor J.B. McCuskey.
“This is an effort that needs to be done in one fell swoop, and this legislation will do that,” McCuskey said. “When there’s one dilapidated house on the block, there’s a much better chance that there will end up being two, and we need to take action now to rip the Band-Aid off and fix the problem all at once and make our communities as beautiful and safe as we know they can be.”
The meeting with Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce and other officials will be held at 11:15 a.m. at the municipal building.
SB 552 will change how the Land Bank is operated in West Virginia and will set aside $30 million to help cities and counties demolish unsavable buildings.
The first goal of the bill addresses properties that can be saved and incentivizes ownership and repurposing of abandoned lands. The bill offers a hardship plan to property owners to allow for repayment arrangements or tax forgiveness when one or more conditions are met.
If the taxes are delinquent and the property ends up in the Auditor’s Office, it will first be offered to owners of neighboring parcels of land, then the city or county in which it sits, then nonprofit corporations and charitable groups. The Auditor’s Office also is partnering with the state Housing Development fund to identify select properties to entice teachers, doctors, and other essential workers to certain areas in the state, and to help people who have successfully completed drug recovery rebuild their lives.
The second component of the bill would aid communities to demolish dilapidated structures. Cities and counties would realize cost savings through larger, regional demolition contracts, McCuskey said.
The bill sets aside $30 million for demolitions.
Other highlights are a statewide uniform process for collection and enforcement of property taxes, changing how interest and penalties for redeemed taxes are calculated and shortening time periods for redeeming delinquent taxes and returning abandoned property back to the books before it becomes uninhabitable.