The Brunswick City Commission is another step closer to establishing a land bank authority with Glynn County following their unanimous approval of an intergovernmental agreement between the two bodies during Wednesday’s regular city commission meeting.
The agreement was approved with provisions to amend the language regarding the makeup of the land bank board and the percentage of taxes the land bank authority would retain after putting a property back on the tax rolls.
The Glynn County Commission will vote on the agreement at its March 2 meeting, according to Brunswick City Manager Jim Drumm.
Failing initially to persuade some county commissioners to join the city in establishing the land bank, city commissioners were ready to move forward without a partnership with the county and just needed the county to sign off on it.
However, before the city could approve moving forward on its own, word came that the county had renewed interest and wanted more information about establishing a land bank.
After hearing a presentation during a joint session between the two bodies on the basic requirements for starting a land bank authority from a representative with The Georgia Association of Land Bank Authorities, the county agreed to move forward in taking the first step, which was approving and signing the intergovernmental agreement with the city.
Land banks are established by local governments to deal with urban blight by clearing tax properties of tax issues and liens so they can be sold or repurposed. The city of Brunswick has been dealing with blight since the Great Recession, which started in 2007. Since 2009, at least 182 dilapidated properties had been demolished and 129 were still vacant as of May 2016.
A land bank authority, while tethered to the city and county, is a separate entity with an independent board, according Christopher Norman of the land bank association. The board’s job is to run the organization. No veto can come from the county or the city.
Commissioners were presented with all the facts and had their questions answered during the Feb. 2 joint session and learned that no money is required to form a land bank authority and that they can start small and can decide the kind of properties to deal with — industrial, residential, etc.
In other business, Georgia Water and Environmental Services, Thomas & Hutton and EMC Engineering made presentations on their qualifications and experience to fix the flooding problem in College Park. The firms will be evaluated using a scoring system and chosen at a later date.
The commission also approved Consuella Caudill’s appointment as the new assistant city manager.
Lance Sabbe, who serves on the Historic Brunswick Foundation, was appointed to fill the city’s second spot on the SPLOST 2016 Citizens Oversight Committee.