Cuyahoga County Land Bank Millions of $ Wasted

Submitted by JohnDoe on Mon, 03/17/2014 - 17:06.

 From 2008:

Cuyahoga County Proposes Land Bank Program To Tackle Rising Number of Abandoned Properties

 

Jim Rokakis , former Cuyahoga County treasurer, created the land bank with a proposal to "make a noticeable dent in the number of structures needing demolition in Cuyahoga", and to minimize the immediate negative impact foreclosures have on the community.

"Rokakis' proposal is expected to make a noticeable dent in the number of structures needing demolition in Cuyahoga, minimize the immediate negative impact they have on the community, and hinder proliferating speculation and flipping of these properties."

 

Six years and millions of dollars later, where's the dent in the number of structures needing demolition?

Now Jim Rokakis wants Cuyahoga County to borrow 50 million dollars for demolition.  The 50 million does not account for the millions already spent on demolition.  

 

"The former Cuyahoga County Treasurer has been singularly focused on bringing as much money from the settlements of the sub-prime lending lawsuits to bear on demolishing as many of Northeast Ohio’s vacant homes as possible. In his zeal for demolition, Rokakis has been branded by critics for taking too aggressive a stance; rather than a chainsaw, they’d like to see him use a scalpel and salvage what may be operable." 

 

Jim Rokakis  told the budget director she was incompetent and recommended the employee retire early after she reported the land bank would cost millions.  

And Jim Rokakis is now asking the county to borrow millions.

Is this a dent or a gaping hole?

 

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis attacks Budget Director Sandy Turk over cost analysis of land bank

 

Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis wants the county's budget director fired for producing an analysis that shows Rokakis' land bank initiative could cost county taxpayers millions of dollars.

Rokakis, who has billed the land bank program as a money maker, said Tuesday that he considers the analysis by Budget Director Sandy Turk to be flawed and that he intends to ask county commissioners for her removal.
"She deliberately misstated numbers to create the illusion that the land bank would cost the county money," he said.
Turk, who has served as budget director for 19 years, said Tuesday that she stands by the analysis. "All I'm doing is my job," she said.

The dispute arises just as the nonprofit corporation has begun its work after about two years of lobbying by Rokakis to create a county land bank, the first of its kind in Ohio. Formed by a vote of county commissioners earlier this year, the bank plans to accept or buy foreclosed and abandoned properties throughout the county for future demolition or rehabilitation.

As envisioned by Rokakis, the land bank will collect millions of dollars in penalties and interest on unpaid real estate taxes and millions more from the sale of banked properties to qualified buyers.
But Turk's report, which her office prepared in April before the vote by commissioners, states that the bank will need as much as $30 million in start-up money from the county to acquire property.
The report warns that a loan to the land bank would earn a smaller return for the county than leaving the money in other investments. The report concludes that the county could lose $2 million a year.
But the report says that the land bank could eventually help county finances by returning land to the tax rolls.
A copy of the report circulated last month at the first meeting of the land bank's governing board. Later that day, Rokakis, who serves on the board, made an angry call to Turk.
Exactly what was said in the exchange is a matter of dispute.
According to Turk, Rokakis asked if she was going to take a buyout being offered to county employees. Then, Turk said, the treasurer added: "Maybe you will when I become the next commissioner next year."
Rokakis denied making any reference to becoming a commissioner, but he acknowledged advising Turk to retire early: "I said, 'You know Sandy, you should take the buyout because you're an incompetent.' "

 

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/06/cuyahoga_county_treasurer_jim.ht...

 

 

 

Cuyahoga County Proposes Land Bank Program To Tackle Rising Number of Abandoned Properties
Safeguard Properties was mentioned in an article from DSnews.com which can be viewed here.
Cuyahoga County Proposes Land Bank Program To Tackle Rising Number of Abandoned Properties 
Carrie Bay | 07.16.08
Treasurer Jim Rokakis of Cuyahoga County, Ohio has developed a long-term redevelopment strategy to address the county's growing number of abandoned properties. If approved by the state legislature, this initiative will enable the institution of Community Improvement Corporations with decentralized county governance, and it will allow counties to design individual plans that are tailored to meet the needs of their communities.
Land reclamation of vacant and abandoned properties has long posed a problem in urban areas, and the burgeoning foreclosure crisis has only amplified the problem. According to Cleveland-based Safeguard Properties, the city of Cleveland, within Cuyahoga County, will likely spend about $9,000,000 demolishing condemned properties and another $4,000,000 on the upkeep of vacant lots this year alone. Both costs are regressive expenses, meaning that demolished properties will then become additional vacant lots, all of which will require upkeep and maintenance year after year.
Under Rokakis' plan for Cuyahoga County, a county-sponsored “land bank” will actively address the abandoned properties problem by opening up much needed resources. Modeled on the success of the Genesee County, Michigan Land Bank, the proposed Cuyahoga land bank will have the power to acquire abandoned properties from banks, receive tax-foreclosed properties, maintain properties pending rehabilitation, prepare land for development, and demolish those properties with no residual equity. The land bank will have the authority to buy, sell and hold properties throughout Cuyahoga County.
Rokakis asserts that the land bank must be self-sufficient since other government funding cannot be assured. According to Safeguard, he has outlined three essential sources of funding for the Cuyahoga County land bank:
-Tax anticipation: The treasurer proposes to pay outstanding real estate taxes by borrowing the money from its daily balance, and allowing the land bank instead of the individual taxing districts to recapture the statutory 10 percent penalty and interest on delinquincies.
-Tax collection cost fund: A change in the Ohio Revised Code regarding treasurers' fees on delinquent taxes would allow an additional 5 percent to be collected and slated for counties' land banks.
-Bundling: Pending changes to the Ohio Revised Code, tax foreclosed properties will be auctioned in “bundles”, to prevent speculators from picking up only higher equity properties and leaving behind the negative equity properties to escheat to the state. These bundles will then be used to help fund land bank operations.
Safeguard says Rokakis' proposal is expected to make a noticeable dent in the number of structures needing demolition in Cuyahoga, minimize the immediate negative impact they have on the community, and hinder proliferating speculation and flipping of these properties.
 
 
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Millions wasted - the Land Bank needs to be shut down

 

 

https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/01/cuyahoga_county_demo_bond_stra.html#incart_river

  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
Chris Evans - we spoke about a year ago and you said you would visit my neighborhood, so I could show you the legacy of former CLE Councilman Jim Rokakis.  You never visited.   Now you put up some inane response to the criticism of the "Land Bank."   







"Tru Dat" - what self-respecting journalist uses that kind of language?  Well - if you haven't already read some of my links posted below, I can always post more: 





http://realneo.us/content/cuyahoga-county-land-bank-millions-wasted 

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  • Tarax

  • 3 years ago
The Land Bank already does this. In almost all cases, the banks pay the full freight of demolition of any properties donated to the land bank.

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  • 216ism

  • 3 years ago
tarax If this is true why did Jim Rokakis make the case for the $100 million bond/debt to take on the demolition needs? I do hope you'll post a citation of this idea that the County Land Bank gets banks to pay for demolitions and code enforcement. 


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RC

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  • Rcarla

  • 3 years ago
tarax Yes, I'd love to see that citation, too. But another point is that the banks should be made to pay for the maintenance of vacant properties so they don't deteriorate and have to be torn down. If they maintain the properties properly, they get their money back when the house is sold. If the city has to maintain the property, the city charges its costs to the banks. It's only fair. 


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RC

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  • Rcarla

  • 3 years ago
The banks caused this foreclosure crisis. Here's a novel approach: why not make banks part of the solution? Several cities, including Springfield, MA and Youngstown, OH are already doing so. We could be doing this in the 59 municipalities of Cuyahoga County: http://inthesetimes.com/article/17445/a_new_strategy_to_make_the_banks_pay 


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CE

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  • Christopher Evans, Cleveland.Com, Work Also Appear

  • 3 years ago
rcarla  

You are absolutely correct. Banks should be held responsible. Cities across Cuyahoga County should be adopting the Youngstown initiative. The million dollar question is why aren't they?  


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MA

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  • Maple22

  • 3 years ago
Christopher Evans, Northeast Ohio Media Group rcarla Mr. Evans, would you be willing to try to get an answer to that question for us?

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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
Who is the Director of Housing and Community Revitalization???!  The Deputy position is currently posted at County website- lists requirement ONLY a bachelor degree - who is being lined up for this?

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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
My guess would be that this person will help demo nuisance properties with huge tax liens on them to pave way for developers similar to project that happened w/ Heinen's on east side: http://realneo.us/content/cle-flip-2015-prediction#comment-35078

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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
Cuyahoga County has a shrinking tax base - and as the "Land Bank" *presto* erases back taxes on properties demo'd - we will then have even less of a tax base to pay back these bonds.   <Please READ that sentence AGAIN. 





Under FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County's bond rating took a hit.  Does this continued mentality benefit the region? 





http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2013/11/standards_poors_downgrades_cuyahoga_countys_credit_rating.html 







Why is there NO attempt to collect on properties in tax foreclosure for years - the so-called "Dirty Dozen" that includes Gus Frangos' brother Lou Frangos?? 





I am truly astounded at our ability to delude ourselves to the truth in Northeast Ohio.  To continue to support the Land Bank - is the definition of insanity: 

http://realneo.us/content/land-bank-staff-mushroomed-job-creation#comment-35092 

http://realneo.us/content/fbi-raids-indiana-city-county-buildings-county-land-bank-scandal-next-stop-cuyahoga-county 

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ME

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  • Media202

  • 3 years ago
Amazing group of commentators here....what is your solution? 





The truth is even if we did not have the foreclosure crisis much of the housing stock is out-dated, built for WWII veterans, steel workers, and railroad workers. The houses are generally on small lots, two-three bedrooms, and one bath in a maze of small rooms. No den, no finished basement, no man cave, no media room, no open kitchen with shiny appliances, no master bath. 

Just watch house hunters to see what people want today, even as ... » more

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CE

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  • Christopher Evans, Cleveland.Com, Work Also Appear

  • 3 years ago
media202  

Tru dat. Thank you for your well-informed perspective.  


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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
Christopher Evans, Northeast Ohio Media Group media202 well-informed?

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  • The Early Wynn Report

  • 3 years ago
All of you fake government conspiracy freaks are free to buy properties from the land bank or before they go to the bank and re-hab them and even turn a profit if you are careful. Me personally? I chose to invest in Southern property which has increased about 10% annually in the past 3 years.  





Otherwise, I would have bought two or three of these properties and rehabbed them. 


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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
Cuyahoga County Land Bank is protected front for transfer of wealth - Forest City, Safeguard and friends are beneficiaries. East Cleveland is especially hotly contested area with councilman Brandon King exploiting his position.  This is CLE - and it is sad.  For easily searchable archive see REALNEO: http://realneo.us/search/node/land+bank

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  • The Early Wynn Report

  • 3 years ago
Laura McShane  You are free to invest in the City anytime. 


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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
Early Wynn Laura McShane I use my real name here and I invested in the city when I bought my house - and I am current on my taxes--unlike some of my neighbors. For fun - randomly check any street in Cuyahoga County.  See who has NOT paid taxes for years.  My neighbor Tim Donovan who sits on Board of Zoning Appeals did NOT pay his taxes for years.  No problem.  Commercial properties have also gotten a huge pass for years starting with the reign of Rokakis-Frangos in the County Treasurer position and earlier. Flipper Frangos is glaring example: http://realneo.us/content/gus-frangos-president-cuyahoga-county-land-bank-con-artist-jesus 





Here is a property also tax delinquent: 

http://realneo.us/content/alhambra 

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CL

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  • Clevdiaspora

  • 3 years ago
Every municipality in this county has ordinances on the books that require the owners of these properties to either maintain them or demolish them at the owner's cost. Of course, for this to happen, someone in the municipality must actually make the effort to enforce those ordinances. Now, as a result of the complete failure of these municipal authorities, the taxpayers must pick up the bill to demolish these properties. Why is this not a scandal? 

The editorial board should look at how much ...» more

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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
clevdiaspora also - as the article refers to "targeted" code enforcement - Kris Harsh http://www.dscdo.org/scfbc_contact.aspx served code violation citations to 400 of 600 homes in the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood of Cleveland just south of Denison between I-176 and Pearl Rd.  





It seems an oddly aggressive strategy for one particular neighborhood - but, then again, proximity to Metrohealth, Metroparks and National Park may play into the suddenly aggressive code enforcement - or are demo's planned?  We'll never know as residents aren't privy to the master planning going on at our CDOs.  Also, brownfield clean up at our neighborhood park WC Reed Field continues to go on since 2012 unchecked spending of federal dollars for an area that has views of downtown Cleveland.  Yes- all conspiracy to some. « less

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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
clevdiaspora Eric J. Brewer enacted legislation to fine delinquent property owners in East Cleveland - Norton ignores it: http://realneo.us/content/east-cle-and-great-land-grab

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  • 302CLE

  • 3 years ago
I can see a editorial eighteen months from now about how this program was turned into freebees for monied interests. 

The greedy people will use local politicians as conduits to do their bidding here. I'm sure Mr. Budish is watching out for such shenanigans.

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LM

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  • Laura McShane

  • 3 years ago
Christopher Evans, Northeast Ohio Media Group Dyt Forest City, SAFEGUARD's Robert Klein, GUS FRANGOS, Cleveland Bricks LLC, CDCs like Detroit Shoreway...Cheryl Stephens formerly at BOR now at Land Bank...just a few...

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GK

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  • Garry Kanter

  • 3 years ago
"I'm not listening! I can't hear you! LA-LA-LA! There's no bad guys until the FBI points them out to us!" - CE 


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GK

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  • Garry Kanter

  • 3 years ago
Of course the Land Bank gets $9 MILLION of it. 

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And on Monday -- barely a month after Budish and many on county 

council took office -- the first applications for demo dollars are 

expected to land at the county's Board of Control, according to Gus 

Frangos, president of the Land Bank.  

The Land Bank will be one of those applicants. The ordinance that 

describes the demolition initiative -- underwritten by a county bond -- 

provides three, one-time allocations of $3 million for the ... » more

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CE

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  • Christopher Evans, Cleveland.Com, Work Also Appear

  • 3 years ago
Garry Kanter  

Garry, please document your allegations against the Land Bank.

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GK

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  • Garry Kanter

  • 3 years ago
I cited the PD's commentary piece, above.

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The ordinance that 

describes the demolition initiative -- underwritten by a county bond -- 

provides three, one-time allocations of $3 million for the Land Bank.  


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GK

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  • Garry Kanter

  • 3 years ago
The PD Editorial Board's unflagging love for all that Jim Rokakis, his "institute", and his Land Bank pals put forth continues to harm this region. 

Borrowing $50 MILLION - which with interest will cost at least $100 MILLION to pay back - in order demolish homes is an expensive, risky, unproven gambit. 

Why can't the banks and agencies that own these homes pay the back taxes and the demo costs? 



You can rest assured that once again, taxpayer and property owner wealth will transfer to The Powers That Be and leave many residents out in the cold. 

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RC

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  • Rcarla

  • 3 years ago
Christopher Evans, Northeast Ohio Media Group Garry Kanter  

If we have "strategic demo" is the public informed about what the "strategy" is?  


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GK

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  • Garry Kanter

  • 3 years ago
That's a fool's question, Evans. 

The only study in favor was conducted by the guys who will be getting the $. 

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"Cite one study that challenges the effectiveness of that tactic."  - CE 


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