9:25am

Fri June 3, 2011
All Politics are Local

New State Law Fights Vacant Property

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has signed a new law that aims to boost revenue and beautify neighborhoods. When a property is vacant and falls into a state of disrepair, city governments often cut grass and board up windows, then fine the owner for the work. In Louisville, Metro Government has spent millions keeping up empty houses, but only $800,000 has been repaid. That’s because the city couldn’t collect from property owners until banks and other creditors got their share.

“You do have some scoundrels in this business and we’ve got to address this because it’s a drain on our cities and it’s a drain on our neighborhoods,” says Beshear.

The new law puts cities at the front of the line and all but ensures more money will be collected, but the measure will do more to fix neighborhoods than budgets.

“It’s not about the money,” says Metro Councilman Kelly Downard. “We’ll get more fees, sure, but it’s about getting our neighborhoods clean again, having people who own properties that may not be occupied—or are occupied but people aren’t keeping them up—to start keeping them up.”

Downard says the law will also help cities collect money from banks that own but do not maintain foreclosed homes.