Garden City commissioners agree to halt land bank

Garden City commissioners decided on Tuesday not to establish a joint city/county land bank until the state legislature eases financial restrictions on foreclosed properties.

The land bank would have been used to repurpose unused or deteriorating properties collecting delinquent property taxes.

The city commission’s decision follows a similar move by Finney County commissioners on Monday to hold off any development on the project until legislative measures are taken to expedite the process.

A task force appointed in May found that state statutes require counties to go through the foreclosure process for tax sales even if a land bank exists. Because the foreclosure process would be unavoidable, the task force concluded that the additional costs associated with the foreclosure process make the program unviable based on current budgets.

“I think the county was willing to work around that,” Kaleb Kentner, Neighborhood and Development Services director, said, “but this process, because of the state statutes, the way they’re written for the state of Kansas, you’re in essence doubling the taxpayers dollars to do this and basically based on the conservative values that the task force view as both the city and the county, it just wasn’t worth the tax dollars that go into it.”

Kentner added that there are counties and cities that use land banks across the state and are willing to spend additional tax dollars to maintain the project.

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