Commissioners Consider Fee To Aid In Blight Demolitions

 

WARREN, Pa. — The Warren County commissioners are considering adding a fee to deeds and mortgages to help clean up the county.

A 2016 amendment to the state Recorder of Deeds Fee Law allows counties to levy an additional $15 fee on those transactions. The dollars generated could only be used for demolition of blighted properties.

There is already an $11 fee on deeds and mortgages. Those dollars go into the Housing Trust Fund to help provide affordable housing in the county.

The county redevelopment authority, the entity responsible for the disposition of blighted properties, asked the commissioners to enact the new fee.

“This would give us some funds to work with,” County Clerk and Redevelopment Authority Member Pam Matve said.

“It is specifically for blight demolition,” County Planning Director Dan Glotz said. “The RDA won’t be using it to purchase property.”

He estimated a basic residential demolition costs the authority $10,000. “When you get into commercial properties, it can really bump that up,” Glotz said.

The county raises about $30,000 a year for the Housing Trust Fund from the existing $11 fee, according to Grants Administrator Lorri Dunlap. Based on that, a $15 fee would raise about $41,000 a year.

Currently, the authority relies on dollars from the Community Development Block Grant to fund demolitions.

Those funds have several strings attached, Glotz said. If the commissioners were to enact the additional fee, the “RDA would be required to file an annual report with the Department of Community and Economic Development,” Glotz said.

“We have a lot of properties that are blighted,” Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said. “If we can come up with enough money to do another demolition” the fee would be serving a valuable purpose.

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