City council creates new Gadsden Land Bank Authority

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By Brett Johnson/Messenger Correspondant

The Gadsden City Council on Tuesday authorized the incorporation of the Gadsden Land Bank Authority to make it easier for the city to acquire tax-delinquent and nuisance properties. 

“Essentially what happens is now this Gadsden Land Bank Authority takes the place of the State of Alabama in terms of ownership,” said Council President Deverick Williams at the meeting. “So that gives the Land Bank Authority the opportunity to go out and secure that ownership interest, and then move in terms of getting this property back on the tax rolls.”

According to Williams, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill making it possible for municipalities with more than 1,000 tax-delinquent properties to form a land bank authority such as the one created Tuesday by the city. The authority will allow the city to expedite the process of abating nuisances by holding public hearings for 100 or more properties at a time instead of one at a time as it does currently. 

Once the authority has gained ownership of a property, it can then sell the land back to neighbors or developers. Williams said this will give the city more latitude in terms of clearing properties throughout the city.

“This is something that worked very effectively for cities like Mobile and Huntsville,” said Williams. “As it stands right now, we’ve budgeted a small amount of money for the acquisition of these properties. And what’s likely to happen is we’ll have to budget more going forward for the acquisition of more properties.”

Council members also discussed growing costs of physical upkeep for these properties throughout the year. This new process should help lower those costs as the city sells and transfers more properties.

“I think that everybody understands that mowing all of these properties is something else,” said Council member Robert Echols Tuesday. “You’re talking about $100,000 a year or better.”

A five-member board of directors, who will be appointed by the mayor and approved by the council, will govern the new authority. According to the certificate of incorporation, all directors must be residents of the City of Gadsden and none shall be publicly elected officials.  

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