Syracuse Land Bank

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Many owner-occupants of tax-delinquent properties in the city of Syracuse are getting extra time to catch up on their back taxes. But that raises some concerns from the buyer of the city’s foreclosed properties.

Every Syracuse Common Council session usually involves a decision on what action to take regarding a list of foreclosable properties in the city. At their most recent session, Councilor Susan Boyle put 11 out of 15 properties in her district on hold from foreclosure. She said most of those properties are owner-occupied and owe less than what the property is worth.    

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Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank / City of Syracuse

The Syracuse Common Council will soon have to decide if they want to override Mayor Stephanie Miner’s veto to a number of amendments the council added to the budget. Those amendments include cuts to the funding of the city’s land bank.

Miner released a list of 60 properties scheduled for demolition that will have to be put on hold unless the council restores funding to the land bank, which takes over tax-delinquent properties. Many of the properties on the list have had a number of police calls and complaints ranging from drugs, trespassing, arsons and shots fired.

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The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is once again a top earner of grant funding from the office of the New York state attorney general. The funding is awarded from mortgage settlements the attorney general’s office made with big banks after the housing crisis.

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The Greater Syracuse Land Bank recently made its 400th sale after it began selling tax-delinquent properties in 2013. The land bank's goals for the new year are to expand outside the city and address health concerns about their properties.

That 400th sale was a home in Syracuse that was listed in the Land Bank’s Home Ownership Choice program, which requires buyers to live on the property or to renovate and sell to an owner-occupant within a year. Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright said most of the properties they sell are fixer-uppers.

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Syracuse’s Land Bank is applying for a new round of funding from settlements the New York State Attorney General’s Office made with banks after the 2008 mortgage crisis. The land bank wants to use the new funding on renovations in areas of the city it has previously neglected.

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A number of items came up on the Syracuse Common Council agenda at a recent meeting. The Syracuse Police Department will be training officers and detectives on how to obtain video footage from corner stores and other businesses. The training was approved by the Syracuse Common Council and will begin in December.

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The Syracuse Land Bank has been operating for about four months without a contract with the city. The result is the Land Bank has had to slow down acquiring foreclosed properties.

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The city of Syracuse has adopted new floodplain maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than 600 properties in Syracuse have been added, bringing the total to more than 1,600 properties that could be required to have flood insurance.

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner said the city needed to adopt the maps so affected residents can get a discount on flood insurance. That discount is about 15 percent. Kessner also said residents can appeal the decision if their property is now on the flood maps.

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The Syracuse Common Council is debating how it should or should not restrict the $1.5 million in the city’s current budget for the Syracuse Land Bank. The number of buildings the Syracuse Lank Bank should be required to demolish is being called into question.

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The Onondaga County Legislature unanimously passed its 2016 budget which focused on saving taxpayers' money while tackling some of the big issues facing the county.

The budget includes a cut to property taxes and cuts to proposed increases in sewer and water rates for Onondaga County residents. County legislature chairman Ryan McMahon said the budget will help spur the economy.

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Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner was on the city’s west side on Thursday, highlighting efforts of police and other officials to improve troubled neighborhoods. But some residents are upset that some neighborhoods have been struggling for years.

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The Greater Syracuse Land Bank, which acquires tax-delinquent properties with the goal of getting them back on the tax roll, is renegotiating its contract with the city.