A joint city-county Land Bank Authority has begun working to make idle property taxable again. The Thomson City Council approved its $5,000 share of the startup costs and deeded a city-owned lot to the agency Feb. 10.
"We formed the authority because we could see the need," Mayor Kenneth Usry said in a brief review. "This is a new venture for us and for the county, but it will benefit all of us by putting property back on the tax books."
City Administrator Don Powers said the city is subject to many rules and regulations on disposal of property. He said the new agency has more flexibility. "They can do anything a private person can do," he said.
In an interview with The McDuffie Mirror , Mr. Usry said the properties came into city ownership from donations, tax liens and other means, just "a hodgepodge of stuff over the last 40 years." He said the city is free to determine whether donated lots will benefit the city; refusing those donations would keep the lots on the tax books.
The mayor said the first lot donated to the agency will provide it with more seed money.
The initial payments from the city and McDuffie County will pay operating costs, including legal fees or title research. Other costs might include demolition of substandard or abandoned foreclosed properties.
The city's $5,000 share will come from the General Fund Contingency. The donated land is off Lee Street north of the railroad tracks. Mr. Usry said when the city accepted the property, leaders believed it was adjacent to the cemetery, but it is not.
He said he does not know how many properties might be affected. "We're requesting a list now, and we're going to be deeding these to the land bank," he said.
City appointee Dot Knox was elected the chairwoman of the four-member group Feb. 4. George Battle is the other city appointee. The county appointed Sammy Wilson and Riley Stamey.