Keep an eye on the Land Bank Authority —Barbara Stratton

Today the Georgia Senate Rules Committee votes on Sen. Tim Golden’s SB 284 “Georgia Land Bank Act; governing creation/operation of land banks; provision”. Received 24 February 2012. -jsq
A citizen’s committee needs to be formed to keep an eye on the Land Bank Authority because they seem to think they are exempt from state Sunshine Law rules. In addition Sen. Golden has a bill SB 284 introduced into the state senate that will allow the establishment of regional land bank authorities. We citizens never consented to all this regional government that is being forced on us. If we can’t keep up with what the local land bank authority is doing just imagine what a regional land bank authority will be able to accomplish with zero public knowledge and input. This is one of the most dangerous pseudo-government entities ever and it needs to be addressed from the citizen level immediately. I applied for a citizen vacancy on the Land Bank Authority, but of course those positions are reserved for politically supportive individuals. Per the sunshine laws, which Sam Olens has sworn allegiance to, a citizen review committee would have to be advised of the meetings that are currently never publicized.

-Barbara Stratton

SB 284 already passed Monday a week ago in the Senate Finance Committee, according to Nelson Mullins, Gold Dome Report – 2-27-2012,
The second Bill on the agenda was SB 284 by Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta). This Bill would provide for provisions governing the creation and operation of land banks on and after July 1, 2011. Sen. Golden spoke of the importance of updating land bank law. The last time the law had been overhauled was more than 20 years ago. SB 284 passed unanimously.
According to Nelson Mullins, Gold Dome Report – 2-29-2012,
Senate Rules Committee:
On the Senate Floor for Legislative Day 29, the following Bills will be heard:

SB 284 – Georgia Land Bank Act; governing creation/operation of land banks; provision (Substitute) (FIN-8th)
Yep, that’s today, March 5th; here’s the Senate Rules calendar for today. Here’s the text of SB 284.

I don’t see the part about regional land banks, but I do see this, which I don’t like:

(7) To borrow money to further or carry out its public purpose and to execute notes, other obligations, leases, trust indentures, trust agreements, agreements for the sale of its notes or other obligations, loan agreements, mortgages, deeds to secure debt, trust deeds, security agreements, assignments, and such other agreements or instruments as may be necessary or desirable, in the judgment of the land bank, to evidence and to provide security for such borrowing;

(8) To issue notes or other obligations of the land bank and use the proceeds thereof for the purpose of paying all or any part of the cost of any land bank projects and otherwise to further or carry out the public purpose of the land bank and to pay all costs of the land bank incidental to, or necessary and appropriate to, furthering or carrying out such purpose;

Just what we need: another unelected “authority” issuing bonds that we the taxpayers have to pay for. In this case, an authority with no website, no meeting schedule, and no public agendas or minutes.


3 thoughts on “Keep an eye on the Land Bank Authority —Barbara Stratton

  1. JB

    Since land banks cannot tax, there would be no cause for concern that its bonds would have to be backed by taxpayers. Instead, such bonds would be backed by its inventory of property – which before would just be languishing on the books of a speculator or the County. Land banks are a good thing! Look what they’ve done for Flint, Michigan – they address the legal and administrative barriers that keep properties off the market (often due to outdated laws and legal procedures that are out-of-sync with today’s financial/mortgage realities). Even better, land banks are a counter-measure to speculators, who profit by draining any last remaining drop of equity out of properties but often do nothing to actually improve/renovate the properties, leading to neighborhood decay and the decline of everyone else’s property values.
    Land banks are tools to “re-fertilize” the community with value that would have otherwise gone to bottom-feeding speculators (which includes banks, by the way, who buy entire portfolios of foreclosed properties for next to nothing, and then just sit on them, letting them rot).

  2. Barbara Stratton

    There is no direct reference to a regional land bank authority. However, the bill allows for “Intergovernmental contract” defined as “a contract as authorized pursuant to Article IX, Section III, Paragraph I of the Constitution of GA and paragraph (5) of Code Section 36-34-2 and entered into by counties, consolidated governments, and municipal corporations pursuant to this article.” Section 48-4-103 further lists that a land bank may be created by two or more counties, which spells regional to me. Therefore regional land bank authorities can be established if this bill is passed.
    The bill also allows for public/private partnerships which co-mingle government and private enterprise. Under Section 48-4-106 which enumerates the powers of a land bank, Lines 307 – 315 state “(20)To fix, charge, and collect rents, fees, and charges for the use of real property of the land bank and for services provided by the land bank: (21) To grant or acquire a license, easement, lease, as lessor or lessee, or option with respect to real property of the land bank: (22)To enter into partnerships, joint ventures, and other collaborative relationships with municipalities and other public and private entities for the ownership, management, development, and disposition or real property: (23) To hold title to real property for purposes of establishing contracts with nonprofit community land trusts, including, but not limited to, long-term contracts:
    If we endorse co-mingling of government and private enterprise we are encouraging crony capitalism and good old boy systems, not to mention following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany and the USSR.
    Here is an article from the Georgia Taxpayer Alliance referencing SB 284 after it failed to pass in 2011. Read the article and the comment below the article.
    The original 2011 version of SB 284 was reduced from 23 pages to 17 pages before it was submitted for the 2012 session. Among the removed sections were two separate entries referencing when a land bank enters a bid for tax lien sales and/or lien foreclosure sales the bid will be accepted regardless of any third party bids. That would mean any fair market and/or higher bid, which would allow a property owner to receive the remaining equity value above taxes, fees, and liens would be ignored. These directives were removed from the current version, but I believe they illustrate the true nature of some lobby interests for desired land bank authority powers. Banks would certainly be among such lobby interests. Many already steal owner equities and convert them to profit margins for them and their cronies by using insider information and under advertising public auction properties. These extremes were sacrificed to present a more acceptable version, but I submit the real prize was salvaged in the remaining increased land bank powers and authorization of regional land bank authorities.

  3. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    JB, good point about bond collateral. Indeed, land banks may be a good thing. What I want to know is who are they (now we know that)
    and what are they doing? Local government transparency can easily work to the advantage of local government agencies that are doing good work. Secrecy just leads to suspicions.
    PS: If you want to submit your comment under your real name, I’ll be happy to post it as a main blog entry. We don’t usually do that for pseudonymous comments.

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