How vacant and foreclosed properties are costing taxpayers:
This is the heart of the issue for local government. Vacant land and buildings not only drain value and reduce revenue, they require government action, and thereby increase expense. Derelict buildings and abandoned property exert a significant drag on local economic and fiscal health. They heighten the need for fire safety and police services, code enforcement, property maintenance, and demolition while damaging the quality of life and the value of surrounding properties. A recent Philadelphia study found that vacant properties can reduce neighboring property values by as much as 20 percent. The study calculated that such properties have resulted in a loss of $3.6 billion in housing wealth in Philadelphia, costing millions in lost property tax revenues. And the city is spending over $20 million each year to maintain vacant properties, a huge sum at a time of intense fiscal stress for local government.
That’s from a new Brookings paper on how cities can manage vacant land and foreclosed properties. The owners of vacant land and blighted properties impose significant costs on their neighbors and taxpayers. They should have to pay for it.
Philadelphia is looking at land banking to deal with this. Candidates for local government should be very interested in this issue. Cracking down on blight will produce more property tax revenue, meaning fewer teacher layoffs.