Commissioners look to clean up blighted properties

Clearfield County Commissioners are considering an ordinance to provide funding for the removal of blighted properties. Pictured above is a blighted property at 330 N. 4th St. that Clearfield Borough is seeking funding to have removed.

Clearfield County Commissioners are planning to pass a new ordinance to provide funding to remove blighted properties.

To fund the program, commissioners are planning to approve Act 152 which would place a $10 fee on deeds and mortgages.

At yesterday’s commissioners meeting, Community Development Specialist Lisa Kovalick presented the commissioners with the draft of the ordinance that was prepared by Solicitor Heather Bozovich.

According to Kovalick, blighted properties pose serious challenges to communities.

“Blighted properties decrease the property values of surrounding properties, erode the health and welfare of local housing markets, pose safety hazards and reduce tax revenue,” Kovalick said. “In addition it has negative affects on crime rates, causes social challenges and environmental issues. Vacant and blighted properties make people feel less safe and less proud of their neighborhoods.

In 2012 the county conducted a housing survey and municipal officials in 24 municipalities identified 313 blighted properties, Kovalick said.

The $10 fee on mortgages and deeds would raise about $40,000 to $50,000 per year, which would be used to assist municipalities and non-profits in removing blighted properties, Kovalick said.

The $10 fee would be on both mortgages and deeds; therefore, if someone buys a house using a mortgage they would pay a total of $20, according to Commissioner John Sobel.

The funds would be administered by the county planning office, Kovalick said.

“By implementing ACT 152 by ordinance, we are taking another step toward reinvesting in the people and communities of Clearfield County,” Kovalick said.

Local News Coverage

“Obviously it is (blight) a problem in Clearfield County and this is a nice tool to have,” Sobel said of the proposed ordinance.

Sobel said while speaking with officials from many of the county’s smaller municipalities, he learned they are frustrated over blight and not having the resources to combat it.

Bozovich said the ordinance will be advertised and would be ready for final approval at the next commissioners meeting.

At the request of county Register and Recorder Maureen Inlow, Sobel said the new fee would not go into effect for at least 60 days to give time to give banks, realtors and lending institutions notice of the new fee.