Land Bank mtg 6-8-18

The Knox County Land Reutilization Corp. (land bank) approved a $45,500 management contract with the Knox County Area Development Foundation on Friday. Pictured are, from left, Vince Villio, assistant Knox County prosecutor; Brian Ball, engineer for the City of Mount Vernon; County Commissioner Roger Reed; Greg Bemiller, property maintenance enforcement officer for Mount Vernon; Jeff Harris, president of the ADF; Shelly Coon, Knox County treasurer; and Robin Thomas, Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

MOUNT VERNON — The board of the Knox County Land Reutilization Corp., aka land bank, approved a contract on Friday authorizing the Knox County Area Development Foundation to oversee the land bank's day-to-day operations.

The contract sets a base fee of $45,500 a year and includes an inflation increase based on any rise in the Consumer Price Index. The contract runs through Dec. 31, 2033.

Operations the ADF will oversee include:

  • Taking in, assessing, and disposing of properties
  • Identifying, managing, and negotiating contracts for demolition and rehabilitation projects
  • Planning and developing public/private partnerships, project financing, target areas, and long-term goals
  • Record activities, maintain records, and manage public record requests

“Planning and development is particularly important because there has to be some amount of foresight as to property or targeted areas,” said Jeff Harris, president of the ADF.

The 2018 land bank budget to date shows $77,000 in income: $67,000 as a line of credit from the Knox County Board of Commissioners and $10,000 in DTAC (delinquent tax and assessment collection) fees. Expenses include $45,500 for the management contract with ADF; $11,000 in demolition, environmental services, field services, and title work fees; and $20,000 in accounting and legal fees.

Harris said the professional fees will be higher this year because of the initial set-up costs. He thanked the commissioners for stepping forward with the line of credit to get things started.

“We believe in this program,” said Commissioner Roger Reed. “We think it's going to be beneficial not only to the city but to the county as a whole.”

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Board members also adopted policies for acquiring properties and relating to public records.

The acquisition/procurement policy allows the president of the land bank, or his/her designee, to enter into contracts under $10,000 without board approval. Citing a demolition contract for $7,500 as an example, Harris said this authority will allow projects to move forward without excessive delay. The board must approve any expense over $10,000.

The procurement policy does not require the land bank to go through a statutory competitive bidding procedure for goods and services.

“However, we are going to do informal competitive bidding; I think it's a good idea,” said Harris. “We will try and procure from vendors in Knox County.”

Informal competitive bidding involves getting at least three bids; if the land bank “in good faith” cannot get at least three bids, the land bank president can go with only two bids or one bid if the prospective provider is a sole supplier. In lieu of informal competitive bidding, the president can acquire the goods or services after providing public notice to interested contractors through a Request for Qualifications or Request for Proposal.

Robin Thomas of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy told the board that the land bank can apply for demolition money through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency. There is no restriction on how many times the land bank can apply for the money.

“As long as there's money in the pot, they will set aside up to $12,500,” she said.

Harris told KnoxPages.com that he anticipates the ADF will hire a staff member by mid-summer who will focus on land bank activities. He said that by fall, the staff member will begin going through the list of tax delinquent properties to identify potential projects.

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